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Autograph interview 

Submitted by Criss Sexx on 2016-08-21
To be honest, when I was invited by Melodic Net to join the website's staff, I wasn't really sure it would be a good idea, since I run out of time in a daily basis, due to my formal work, my family and also my own band. I had written album reviews and some interviews through the years, and my other experiences had been much less than I expected. Anyway, I guess people have been enjoying my writing, and I am really glad about it.
This particular interview is something really special. We're talking about a four-piece interview with the phenomenal band Autograph. Yes, one full interview with the four members of the band!!! It's something specialw because I can't really recall either any other music website or magazine doing such a thing, since the good, old Metal Edge days!
As for Autograph, I've always been a huge fan of theirs. I still remember buying the "Sign In Please" album back in early 1985. I was really sorry when they disbanded and very excited when they reunited!!!
I was lucky enough to have met the four guys in person, when they played their historical gig at Firefest, in Nottingham, England. I call tell those who couldn't be there that they kicked some major ass!!!
I must say that Simon Daniels, who has been my buddy for quite a while, didn't tell me he was part of the reformed Autograph - I would have been upset, but he's such a great guy that it's just impossible to dislike him! From his early days with Jailhouse to his joining Autograph, I was very happy he made it to a huge band! Steve and Randy have been two of my childhood heroes. I met Steve on the internet years ago, then we lost contact. As for Randy... Well, Randy has always been great - funny, polite and everything else (think of all positive adjectives you can remember!)... I got to know Marc when he joined Autograph, he has always been such a nice guy. It was unforgettable meeting them at Firefest 2014, I mean it!
The "Louder" EP is a proof of how the reformed band still kicks ass! Since the review I wrote about it seemed to have been read by many, I had this crazy idea... Would I be able to get interviews from the four Autograph members? Gladly, they were just as awesome as they've always been and yes, I did get to interview the whole band, as you'll read next!
A general view of Autograph's past, present and future was registered allover the four interviews.

Let's start reading original member, "The Two-Handed Guitarist" Steve Lynch's interview, then have new singer / guitarist / songwriter Simon Daniels's say, move on to new drummer's Marc Weiland's more than interesting info and conclude it all with also original member's bassist Randy Rand funny, straight to the point  answers...
I hope you all enjoy it!
Criss Sexx


CRISS: Hi, Steve, how are you doing? Can we start our interview with your telling us how and when you got started in music, and what your biggest influences were back then?
STEVE: I began playing in 1967 when I was 12 years old. I started out playing bass because there was a guitar player on my block that wanted to start a band. Soon after I switched to guitar because that's where my passion was. My early influences were Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.
CRISS: Being born in Seattle, when did you move to Los Angeles? Did you do it only because of music? How hard was it to move there and make a living?
STEVE: I actually was born in Williston North Dakota but was only a couple years old when I moved to Seattle. I moved to L.A. in the beginning of 1978 to attend the Guitar Institute of Technology. After graduating, I started to get a lot of session work playing on various singles and albums so I decided to stay. It was difficult at times and, for a period, I even lived out of my car. But I was determined to make it work.
CRISS: What did you do musically before joining Autograph?
STEVE: I played in several bands in L.A. before Autograph, at one point I was in four bands at once. I also played in a few bands in Seattle before that, in which were professional, and toured quite a lot in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
CRISS: Had you had any involvement with Wolfgang prior to being in Autograph?
STEVE: I played in a later version of Wolfgang for a very short period, then Steve Plunkett and I started a group called Looker for a short period also.
CRISS: How was it when you first met Steve Plunkett? How was it working with him later on?
STEVE: It was good working with him at first because the band was based on a democracy in which everyone had equal say and creative input. That changed rather quickly when Plunkett started writing with outside people without our knowledge of it. It put a wedge between him and the band because he was trying to take a more leadership role, which we all disagreed with.
CRISS: We all know that Autograph's biggest song ever was "Turn Up The Radio". How did you feel when you listened to it for the first time and when you first listened to its huge airplay?
STEVE: We were ecstatic when we first heard it on the radio! We were all together on the tour bus when we first heard it and we all celebrated immediately!! And yes, we did turn it up!!!
CRISS: How did it feel like when you got the "Guitar Solo of the Year" award from Guitar Magazine because of your guitar solo on this song?
STEVE: I was honored when Guitar Player Magazine took notice of me...I'm sure all guitar players feel the same when they are first recognized by such an iconic publication.
CRISS: Still about "Turn Up The Radio"... How did you like its promo video then and how do you feel when you watch it now?
STEVE: I still like watching that first video. It was a new experience for all of us. Long 16- hour days though, we did a ridiculous amount of takes to put that 4 1/2 minute clip together.
CRISS: Autograph's songwriting was all about Plunkett. Was it either something natural or something the other guys in the band just had to accept?
STEVE: We just had to accept the fact that Steve Plunkett was writing behind our backs with other writers and wasn't giving credit to the songs that were either ideas of our own or full band ideas. When the albums came out without our names on the credits for the writing we were not pleased at all to say the least.
CRISS: "Sign In Please" still is Autograph's best selling album till this day. I actually think "That's The Stuff" and "Loud And Clear" better albums than the band's debut. What's your personal opinion about the band's three first albums and which one is your favorite? Also, which are your favorite songs from that Autograph era?
STEVE: My favorite album is "Loud And Clear" because of the production and writing. We had matured in the studio and were a bit more experimental with the writing creativity. I love all the albums. Each one is unique in itself. My favorite songs of course were "Turn Up The Radio", "All I'm Gonna Take", "Down And Dirty" and "Six String Fever".
CRISS: The "That's The Stuff" album, my personal favorite, is a curious one. What can you say about its various versions that were released? I mean, why was it first released in some countries with either "We're An American Band" or "Six String Fever"?
STEVE: "That's The Stuff" was a rushed release. RCA wanted us to do a cover in which we chose "We're An American Band". It was against my liking as I was extremely opposed to doing ANY cover and "Six String Fever" was my idea, I wasn't very happy to see it get bumped off the album for a cover song.
CRISS: While still in Autograph you were known as "The Two-Handed Guitarist". There was even an instructional guitar home video of yours at the time. What can you say about the title you were given? Also, how did you develop your guitar technique?
STEVE: I started developing that technique in Seattle during the early/mid seventies after seeing Harvey Mandel doing it and a local guitar player named Steve Buffington do it. But I really got into it heavily while attending G.I.T. in March of 1978, when I saw Emmit Chapman do a clinic on the instrument "The Stick". He mentioned to me after the clinic that he got so far with the technique on guitar that he had to create an instrument that would better accompany him with both hands. I decided to stick with the guitar obviously, but started incorporating all the theory I was learning at G.I.T. into using two hands. All the pentatonic, major and minor scales, triads, arpeggios, bending, sliding, vibrato and anything I could think of I wrote it down...which after graduating became my first book.
CRISS: What was the real reason for the original  Autograph line-up to disband? Was it any kind of turmoil among the band members? Any bad feelings towards anyone?
STEVE: The drummer Keni left to be in the band Dirty White Boy, so we got the drummer Eddie Cross who did an excellent job filling Keni's place. Unfortunately, the decision was made to move on without Steve Isham in the band, which Randy and I were totally against, but Steve Plunkett was adamant about it. At that point I lost interest in the band as well as Randy did. We were at rehearsal and I just put my guitar in my case and said I was done. Randy immediately followed suit and that was it. Autograph was an 80's band and the eighties were over. It was literally December of 1989 when we disbanded.
CRISS: What can you say about the late Autograph keyboardist Steve Isham?
STEVE: Steve Isham was a great keyboardist, writer and a genuinely good person all around. I knew him from the Seattle days, when he was in a band called Bighorn and I was in a band called Silverload. Both bands were very popular in the northwest. It broke my heart when Steve Plunkett decided to fire him from Autograph. I still hold a sore spot in my heart for him doing that.
CRISS: How do you feel about the "Missing Pieces" album, which was released long after the original Autograph had called its quits? What's your opinion about this album, since there are so many great, then unreleased songs on it?
STEVE: "Missing Pieces" was made from demos we were recording for Epic Records, who we were going to sign with after our RCA deal was up. It was released in 1997, without my knowing about it. To say the least, I wasn't happy about Steve Plunkett doing that without my permission either. Especially since I wrote 7 out of the 11 songs that are on that release. It was just another thing he decided to do without our knowing about it.
CRISS: You must have listened to the "Buzz" album that Steve Plunkett released as an Autograph one some years ago. What did you think of it? Did Plunkett approach you at any time to be on that album? If not, how did you feel about it?
STEVE: I was asked to play on the "Buzz" album but turned it down because the songs were already written and there was no room left for my creativity. It was basically just another Steve Plunkett solo album without the creativity of the new band members who were all top notch players. I think the album didn't do very well for the reason that Plunkett didn't allow the other players input.
CRISS: You were once a guitar instructor for G.I.T., a famous guitar department in the Los Angeles Musician's Institute. When did it happen and how important was it to your career?
STEVE: I actually only did a couple clinics at G.I.T., I wasn't a part of the teaching staff. It was a great experience going back there and doing the clinics though. I was teaching locally in the L.A. area and was making more than the school could afford to pay me. The Musicians Institute (G.I.T.) played an enormous role in my career. Learning theory was the best thing I ever did to improve my playing and it was a pivotal point in my success.
CRISS: Little was known about you since the original Autograph parted ways. Can you talk about what you did back then, besides having the band Network 23?
STEVE: After Autograph I went on to teach 325 clinics in the US and 20 other countries. It was an excellent experience and met some really great people worldwide. After that I did my solo album, I moved back to Seattle and opened a music school, which I ran until recently moving to Florida. I really enjoyed doing my solo album Network 23 because there were no restrictions on it. I could solo as long as I liked and I had total creative control.
CRISS: How do you feel about also being a guitar teacher? What's your focus on teaching other guitarists?
STEVE: I like teaching a lot but I LOVE playing live and recording new material. My lessons were always based on theory in which I have my own method of teaching. All guitarists that I've taught have a really good foundation in music theory.
CRISS: Could you name both the best and the worst moments of your whole career?
STEVE: The best part was hearing "Turn Up The Radio" for the first time on the radio. The worst time was knowing that it was over, the day I walked out of rehearsal.
CRISS: What can you tell us about
STEVE: was an idea I came up with to reach more people worldwide concerning my approach to playing guitar. My books and instructional videos had done very well, so this was a way for players to get a more personal and in depth explanation of my techniques.
CRISS: So, let's talk about the Autograph reunion... Whose idea was it and how did it happen? Was Plunkett ever approached to do it?
STEVE: It was mine and Randy's idea when we saw each other for the first time in 23 years at the 2011 NAMM show in L.A. We tossed the idea around and decided to give it a go. Plunkett was approached to do it but said he couldn't due to his schedule. It worked out great for us though, because we got a fresh new image and sound with Simon singing and Marc on drums.
CRISS: I personally think there was no better singer than Simon Daniels for the reformed Autograph. I remember when the reunion was announced, original drummer Keni Richards was also back in the band, but suddenly out again. What happened for his not staying in the band? Also, how did you guys find your fantastic new drummer Marc Weiland?
STEVE: Keni was unable to do it due to health issues. Marc had played with Simon in a previous band called Flood. When he came in to audition he nailed it perfectly! We are very fortunate to have the addition of Marc and Simon in the band. People say we sound better than ever.
CRISS: Both the old fans and critics loved the reformed Autograph, what could be heard and read everywhere since the comeback tour was very successful. What can you say about this particular tour? What were its best moments?
STEVE: The best moment is when the four of us get on stage, period! It's electrifying and the audience feels it as well. There is a connection we have while playing that has never been matched. I think we all appreciate it more now as well.
CRISS: It was expected that new material would come up soon after the tour. The "Louder" EP proved Autograph to be still a great band, with a fresh, new sound that also takes us back to the band's well known style it became famous for. How did the songwriting process happen? Was it any hard to deliver such great songs, having in mind that comparisons would arise, since Plunkett's songwriting skills have always been considered to be great as well?
STEVE: Steve Plunkett was not a good songwriter on his own, the songs that got the most recognition were all a team effort. Writing with Simon is really easy, he has great ideas and we toss things around as far as parts, titles, chorus' etc.
CRISS: Which is your favorite track off "Louder" and why?
STEVE: My favorite track is "You Are Us, We Are You" because the idea came to me with that title after playing numerous shows and seeing that the audience was really with us, and we're there for the long run. It was a way for us to say thank you to all our friends and fans, which are one in the same as far as we are concerned.
CRISS: As the news has been recently all over the internet, Autograph is recording a brand new, full-length album. What can you say about the forthcoming material? Will there be any songs off "Louder" on it? Also, will it be an independent release as well or are there plans of signing with a label to have it released?
STEVE: The songs off Louder will be on the new full release in addition to 5 new unheard songs. It's going to be a kick ass album!! We are actually talking with a couple labels as we speak about having the full length album released internationally.
CRISS: How do you see the near future of the band? Of course, lots of more touring to come...
STEVE: The future of this band is limitless! We are going to keep touring, recording and having a great time doing it! If you liked the old Autograph, you'll like this one even more! So come out to see us play and we will come out to meet you after the show and keep the party going!! Love and Peace to all !!!!
CRISS: Have you got any endorsement  at the moment? Please tell us a bit about the gear you're using nowadays...
STEVE: All three of us are endorsed by Dean Guitars and I'm going to pick up my first signature model within a few days. Marc is endorsing Paiste cymbals as well.
CRISS: Thanks a lot for the interview, Steve! It's such an honor to interview one of the best guitarists who ever walked the planet and who is also a childhood hero of mine! Any final words for those who are reading this?
STEVE: I think that pretty much covers it, Criss. Thanks for the great questions!


CRISS: How's it going, Simon? Great to talk to you again! I would like to start our interview by letting the readers know about how and when you got started in music. Can you tell as about the very beginning of your career?
SIMON: Doing great, Criss, thank you bro! As you know I was born in Rio de Janeiro coming from an European family, who has migrated to Brazil to escape the holocaust and started getting into music at 9 years old as I became fascinated with the Beatles. I played guitar and sang in several bands in high school up till the time I formed a band called S.O.S. and got a record deal with Warner Bros. releasing what, at the time, was a very popular product: A 45 single vinyl. There wasn't much that happened with that for various reasons. I also signed with Columbia with another band and had a theme song in a soap opera.  In 1985 I had the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and integrated easily in the local Hollywood L.A. rock scene.
CRISS: Who were your very first influences? What artists made you want to become a professional musician?
SIMON: The Beatles, Stones, Nazareth, Kiss, Black Sabbath and many others...
CRISS: Can you talk a little about when you first arrived in Los Angeles? You have told me some great stories about that before...
SIMON: I arrived in L.A. in 1985 and it felt like being born again, LOL. People were really nice all around and I got to meet lots of talented people indeed. I signed up to go to The Musician's Institute (M.I.T.) in Hollywood, but changed my mind and decided to get right into the game instead of becoming technically savvy. To me experience was the best teacher. 
CRISS: You have told me before about some bands you played in prior to Jailhouse. Can you talk about them? Also, Agent X, one of your first bands, had a CD released some years ago. How do you feel about such material being released after so many years?
SIMON: I called newspapers adds and ended up hooking up with a Manager who mentioned of a group of guys looking for a singer. That was Agent X. So I joined the band, wrote new material with them and started playing the club scene in L.A. We got in touch with Kim Fowley who produced Lita Ford's and Joan Jett's band The Runaways in the 70's and had written songs for Kiss like "King Of The Night Time World". We went in to the studio with him to record a 4 song Demo. Like you said, a lot later down the line, around  2012, a label called Demon Doll Records found out about it and contacted me to release a CD of songs including the ones with Kim Fowley. I thought that after all these years it would be very cool to release something that I did when I was so green at the time.
CRISS: The world was aware of you when Jailhouse came into the music scene. You once told me there were two line-ups of the band, but the world got to know the line-up that featured Matt Thorne, Amir Derakh and Dave Alford, who had just come from the band Rough Cutt. Can you talk about the very first line-up, the one which had four guys only, and also about how you and Michael Raphael met the guys who used to be in Rough Cutt?
SIMON: I met Michael Raphael at a job I worked at the time. The original manager of Agent X introduced him to me and we decided to write songs together and form a band, which we named "Jailhouse". We had 2 other members and we worked up the ladder in the L.A. scene. We got to headlining status when one night, at the old famous Country club, in Reseda, we had a show and the Rough Cutt guys came to see me as they were looking for a replacement for their singer Paul Shortino, who had left the band. It was epic and I will never forget it. They brought Vince Neil, Stephen Pearcy and others to get their opinions of me. The next day they started trying to recruit me. So I suggested that Michael Raphael, who was my songwriting partner, join the band with me as well and that we build a new fresh band. They went with it. We spent a lot of time together as we kept growing bigger and bigger as a band.
CRISS: How hard was it for Jailhouse to get signed back then? Is it true that the band was almost part of Gene Simmons's Simmons Records at that time? If so, do you mind talking about it?
SIMON: Extremely hard! It was very hard to get record deals with major labels at the time as the competition for the genre was brutal. We were shopping the band to labels when, at some point in 1989, Gene came to see us at the Roxy. The next day I was driving down Beverly Glenn and, believe it or not, coincidentally I saw Gene at a magazine stand. I stopped the car to talk to him. He was startled with the fact that this happened the very next morning  after he came to see Jailhouse the night before, and therefore invited the band over his house for a business meeting the next day. We spent the whole afternoon with him, we talked, and he played us a bunch of stuff for us, including the Van Halen demos he had produced in the past. He wanted to sign us, but it was a real bad deal for us. He also felt some resistance from some of us. We felt it would be a real bad move to do it so both parties were OK with not pursuing it.
CRISS: Jailhouse was a great, but short-lived band, with just a few albums out. What was the real reason for the to break up for the first time?
SIMON: We worked together for about 5 years, got signed to Enigma Records, went into album production and all of a sudden the label went bankrupt. We kept on going, but eventually it took it's toll.
CRISS: After Jailhouse's break up, you formed the band Grind, you released a solo album and you were in a band called 1RKO. Were there any other projects and releases that people should know of?
SIMON: Besides studio work and constant songwriting, the band Flood in the mid '90s.
CRISS: Sure thing!!! Your next band, Flood, was supposed to have been huge. Its album, which was never released on CD, had some great artists producing and mixing it. It was also supposed to have been released by Interscope Records, but it never happened. Can you talk about Flood, its band members and the album? What happened to the deal with Interscope at the time? Do you think it’ll ever be released on CD one day, since you guys have the album masters?
SIMON: It was one of those awesome beginnings that ended up as a horror story, LOL. After Jailhouse I formed a band called Grind that had Karl Cochran (who had played with Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow and later went to play bass for Ace Frehley) as my writing partner when he decided to move back to N.Y. I put an add looking for a music partner on a very famous magazine called "The Music Connection" in L.A. and ended up meeting Greg Lesley, an extremely talented and wonderful person who became my partner and best friend indeed. He died tragically on a plane crash out of the Santa Monica airport 2 years later. I was devastated. Later in the year, I believe 1993, I was introduced to a great guitar player who had worked with the producer Bob Marlette. We created Flood and not too long after we got signed to Interscope Records. They were fully behind the band for 4 years and as we were scheduled for our record release and a major Tour with Rob Zombie's brother and his band Poweman 5000, the label executives had major conflicts within themselves and decided to drop a bunch of bands, including us, due to political reasons. They gave us the masters.
CRISS: About five years ago Flood released the "Intropervert" video and I remember you were really excited about having the band's album finally out. Meanwhile, Jailhouse had come back together (but Amir Derakh, who was busy with the band Orgy) and did a series of successful gigs. How hard (or fun) was dealing with it all at the time?
SIMON: I did the best I could with what I had and dealt with it.
CRISS: Since the Jailhouse reunion tour was doing fine, it was over soon. I guess it was obviously because you were joining Autograph back then...
SIMON: Yes, indeed.
CRISS: How did you end up being the new Autograph singer? Who approached you for an audition and how did it happen?
SIMON: There was no audition. Their friends saw me at the Jailhouse reunion show at the Monsters of Rock Cruise in 2013 and referred me to them. We talked, got together and it clicked immediately. The Chemistry was there. 
CRISS: Being in Los Angeles for so many years, was Autograph ever an influence of yours? What is your favorite album from the band's back catalog, and what are some of your favorite songs from that era?

SIMON: I have always loved "Turn Up The Radio" as one of my all time favorite hard rock anthem songs. That was mainly it.
CRISS: Did you ever get to meet Steve Isham, Autograph's keyboardist, before his passing away?
SIMON: No, I did not.
CRISS: I was personally really glad when I got to know you were the new singer in Autograph. Back then, when the band's comeback had been announced, original drummer Keni Richards was back, then out again. Why did it happen? Also, as Autograph's fantastic Marc Weiland was a member of Flood, as it the reason for him to be the new band's drummer? Did you guys audition anybody else?
SIMON: Keni was not reliable for commitments due to his mental and physical health, so Steve Lynch and Randy Rand asked me if I knew someone for the position. I brought up Marc. They wanted to meet him and the rest is history.
CRISS: Once the reformed Autograph was back in action, you guys had a very successful tour, which included the Monsters Rock Cruise, M3 and the Firefest in England (I was there and I can tell that it was one of the festival's best shows in that year), among others. What were the best moments of this tour? Did you ever think the band's comeback shows would have been that great?
SIMON: Mostly everywhere we went was great. There was a predictable resistance to the "new" by the old fans, but every single time we performed we conquered the audience 100% and that's a fact.
CRISS: I know it's a hard question for you to answer, but how did you face both the old fans' and some critics' comparisons that had been made between you and Autograph's original singer Steve Plunkett? I know most fans of the band, just like me, loved your being in the band, but there were those who said that "Autograph wasn't really Autograph without Steve Plunkett"...
SIMON: I told them I didn't want to simply join the band as a substitute for their old singer for a short term nostalgic project. I knew it would be hard in the beginning, but I also knew it was just a matter of time. We wanted a career for the band with a heavier, guitar-oriented sound. We also wanted to expand the sound and image into timeless rock instead of remaining an 80's band novelty. 
CRISS: After the acclaimed comeback tour, the "Louder" EP was the result of the new songwriting, by the new band, that was so expected by the fans. What can you say about the whole songwriting process and how involved in it were you, since you've always been a very talented songwriter? Also, how was the feeling to deliver new songs that could prove Autograph was still a great band, even without Plunkett, who used to be the one who did most of the songwriting on the early days?
SIMON: It was a challenge, but I love challenges. The writing came natural to me and it became a band's effort all together, once again proving that the chemistry was right. The feeling and the work ethic were phenomenal. We were all pleased.
CRISS: What's your favorite song off "Louder" and why? Could you also name a few songs from your whole career which you consider the best ones you've written?
SIMON: The song "You Are Us , We Are You" says it all, but we are all very proud of all the songs. I have written so many songs throughout this journey that it's hard to point out 1 or 2 of them, LOL. There are new songs already recorded that will be included on our next CD that I really like. I'll give you the titles: " All I Own", "Meet Me Half Way" and "Get Off Your Ass".
CRISS: So the news that Autograph is preparing a new album is out! What can you tell us about it? How would you describe the new songs? Will there be any songs off "Louder" on it? Is it going to be another independent release or are you guys working on a deal with a label?
SIMON: The new CD will consist of the songs of "Louder" plus 5 other originals like some of the titles I have previously mentioned. We will look into labels and take them in consideration at this time and age, and what they would have to offer to justify giving them so much. If it makes sense then we will consider. These days most labels want to take 50% of your sales, but don't want to invest anything, specially in promotion.
CRISS: How do you see the band's near future to come? Needless to say, there will be a lot of more touring coming up...
SIMON: Yes, none stop work of love. Lots of touring and new music along with the classics.
CRISS: Hey, buddy, thanks so much for the wonderful interview! It's always great when we either chat or meet, and now it feel just as great having this interview with you!!! Thanks for being such a wonderful person and for always making great music, no matter if with Jailhouse, solo, 1RKO, Flood and now Autograph!!! You ROCK!!!
SIMON: Thank you, Criss! You are great!!


CRISS: Hi there, Marc, what's up? Where are you originally from? I wonder how you got started in music in a general way, since you're not only a drummer, but also producer and mix engineer. How did you start it all? Playing with bands or producing artists?
MARC: I was always intrigued by the drums from a young age on. It took me a while to get my first drum set at age 15, after many years of playing on pots and pillows. Being a social being, I always enjoyed playing with bands. Originally from Zurich Switzerland, the opportunities making a living as a musician were scarce. Not much of a music scene over there, unless you're into House and Techno..... So, as soon as I turned 21 I packed my bags and moved to Los Angeles to attend the famous Musicians Institute. After playing and recording with various bands, I was never quite happy with the way stuff sounded, so I took a couple of recording courses and shortly after that started working for Grammy winning engineer Mike Shipley (AC/DC, Def Leppard, Shania Twains etc.). I was hooked and still enjoy the process of making records today. The producing of bands was just a natural progression from recording and mixing and therefore came naturally, just a lot later in life, LOL.
CRISS: What were your biggest influences when you started as a drummer? Also, what drummers do you consider to be the best ones these days?
MARC: My influences are all over the map. A lover of all music, I listen to everything from Punk, Reggae, Pop, Metal, Rock, Classical, Funk, Fusion and lots of Jazz. Jojo Maier from Zurich was a huge influence, as he often played in town. Still one of my favorites, next to Matt Chamberlain, Dennis Chambers, Brad Wilk, John Bonham, Elvin Jones, Daru Jones, Shannon Larkin and hundreds more, LOL. The best ones in today's world? Impossible for me to answer... Drummers I studied with:  Brian Tichy, Ray Luzier, Toss Panos Joe Porcaro and the crazy man Kirk Covington.

CRISS: Still talking about drummers, what's your opinion about Autograph's original member Keni Richards? Had you ever met him before you joined the band?
MARC: I always liked Keni's style, straight ahead drumming with a nice pocket. You top that off with his animated playing = Animal... I have never met him.
CRISS: As a producer, you may also have your favorite ones... Who are they? Could you name three albums that you consider real masterpieces when it comes to production? In your opinion, what makes such albums so good?
MARC: Well...... do you have any easy questions coming up soon? LOL.... Of the top of my head... Mars Volta - "De Loused in the Comatorium", co-produced by Rick Rubin and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Deftones - "White Pony", produced by Terri Date, AC/DC - Back in Black, produced by Mutt Lange
CRISS: You have worked with names such as Snoop Dogg, Brenda Russell, Mike Post, Marques Houston, Butch Cassidy and others. One call tell by the names above you've worked with very diverse music genres. Could you name a few others that aren't in the list? How does that compare to working with and, at the same time, being in a Rock 'N' Roll band as Autograph?

MARC: Worked with Bruno Mars, did some digital editing and additional recording for Fergie, Whitesnake etc. Well, I love music and I consider myself lucky to be still working in this industry. To me it's the perfect balance to be able to do both and the band gig. In the studio I capture the power and magic of a band. When we play we release the power of the Kraken.... it's a little more physical work, to say the least, LOL.
CRISS: You are the drummer on Simon Daniels's Flood's band's video "Intropervert", which was released about five years ago. Did you also played on Flood's unreleased album? What can you say about your experience with this band?
MARC: Yes, that was a great video. No, I was not a member when they recorded the album. My band Phuse and Flood used to play a lot of the clubs here in Hollywood together. Flood is still one of my favorite albums of the 90's, with Bob Marlett as a producer, and mixed by Terri Date. It's killer.
CRISS: So let us know your side of the story. How did you end up being Autograph's new drummer? Was having been involved with Flood something that had to do with it?
MARC: I got a call from Simon one day to see if I would be interested in committing  longterm to a bigger project. Knowing that he just joined Autograph, I had a slight suspicion what he was asking me. Of course I said YES and signed up for an Audition. This was all very last minute, as they had a whole tour booked, including Monster's of Rock, which Keni Richards could not 100% commit to. The guys and me got along right away, and after we jammed on a couple of songs... I got the gig... So, yes, having known Simon had something to do with me joining Autograph.
CRISS: Autograph was a huge band in the 80's. How does it feel being a member of a band who had massive airplay back then? Did the band ever influence you as a musician?
MARC: It's great to play in a band that had some huge hits and made a name for themselves. I just feel very privileged to be playing with all those great musicians. Since I grew up in Europe and none of the Autograph albums were released over there, I got to know them a lot later during my career.
CRISS: Looking back at the band's catalog, which album released by Autograph's original line-up do you like best? Also, what are some of your favorite songs from their short, but valuable discography?
MARC: "Sign in Please" is my favorite album, and "All I'm Gonna Take" is my favorite Autograph song.... I love to play it live!!!!!!!
CRISS: What do you consider to have been the best moments of your whole career, both as a musician and as a drummer? Was joining a big band as Autograph something you always wanted to do, since you have worked as a freelancer musician and producer for so long?
MARC: Autograph is definitely one of the highlights of my career in every way. Yes, I always wanted to tour the world with a band, it is every musician's dream.
CRISS: When you joined Autograph, did you expect the band's comeback would be as successful as it was? What can you tell us about the tour that brought it back to life?
MARC: I think all of us were along for the ride and didn't have any expectations. Nobody knew if the fans would welcome back the band as they did, or accept a new lead singer and / or new drummer. You know, everything just always felt right with this special group of people, and things fell into place quickly. There is a lot of passion and love for music in this band.... and the success of the first tour definitely reflected that.
CRISS: It was quite predictable (and expected, of course) that new music from the band would come soon, after all you guys had had a successful tour, the new line-up was approved by  both the the band and the critics. How did the songwriting process of the new songs that ended up on the awesome "Louder" EP happen?
MARC: Yes, the release of new music was always a priority for the band, specially for the original members Steve Lynch and Randy Rand. It did not take long until the juices started flowing. The songwriting is a big collaboration between everybody in the band. Basic ideas from individual members will usually set the foundation for a new track. Everybody will then bless the track with their talent.
CRISS: Was your being a producer the reason for the recording process having you all over the EP? Had you guys considered anybody else to either produce or be involved in the recordings?
MARC: It was clear from the beginning that the new music was going to be produced by everybody in the band. I just ended up recording and mixing the songs, with some of the lead guitars and bass recorded in Seattle by Chad McMurry. This group has an abundance of incredible talent and knowledge, we don't need a producer, LOL.
CRISS: It's been revealed that Autograph is active in the studio making a brand new, full-length album. Will there be any tracks off "Louder" on it? What can you tell us about the new songs? Also, will this album be produced and recorded by you again?
MARC: Yes, we all are very excited about an additional 5 new tracks we wrote and are almost finished to add to the 5 songs off of our EP to make a 10 Song LP / album. All I  can reveal is... there will be a kick in your butt kind of song and another once is almost, almost a ballad. Produced by Autograph, recorded and mixed by me again.
CRISS: How do you see Autograph in the future to come? There will surely be a lot of touring again...
MARC: Things are looking really good for us right now. We are about to head back out on the road to spread the message of Rock 'N' Roll all over again... In the meantime, the album will be a priority to release...time to release the Kraken!
CRISS: Thanks a lot for the great interview, Marc! Rock On!
MARC: There you go Criss, hope this works, thanks!

CRISS: Hey, Randy, how have you been? I would like to start our interview by asking you where you are originally from and how you got started in music.
RANDY: Hi, Criss, I'm from Northern California, I started playing guitar at the age of seven with my first guitar from Sears. Me and my dad Mel did this together all through my childhood. These are still some of my best memories!
CRISS: Going way back to when, or even before,  you started as a musician... Who were your biggest influences? As a musician, who inspired you so that you'd become a bass player?
RANDY: My first influences were gospel music and country music (real country,  hahahhahaha) .Then that all changed when I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, that's when I knew what I wanted to do!!!!!! I was still a guitar player but Paul made me fall in love with bass lines!
CRISS: What other bands did you play in prior to Wolfgang, with Steve Plunkett? How did both of you meet? Also, how can you describe the transition between Wolfgang and Autograph?
RANDY: I played in a band with my brother Cliff Schuchart when we were kids called Cold Steal, after that I moved to OR. to join a band called Silverhill, which two of the members became part of my first record deal band "Master Of The Airwaves", on Epic records. This band brought me to Los Angeles. After MOTA broke up I was looking for another band and the manager of the Starwood Club in Hollywood introduced me to Steve Plunket , so I became the Bass Player for Wolfgang! I was in that band for five or six years, I can't remember!!!!! After that, I moved to Salt Lake City to join a band called the Lawyers, great band!!!! But we just couldn't get signed!! Moved back to L.A. My roommate at the time was Randy Castillo, so we decided to put a band together for fun, so we formed The Offenders, a 3 piece band with Glen Shurba on guitar !!!!!!! A fantastic fucking band!!!! Lita Ford saw us at Madam Wongs and asked me if I wanted to try out for her band and I said yes!! So I joined Lita and the drummer at the time wanted to move on, so I suggested Randy Castillo came on board and he did!!!! During the Recording of Lita's 2nd album, Plunket called me in New York and asked me if I wanted to go on tour with Van Halen, and of course I said yes!! The rest is history!
CRISS: When signing the deal with RCA for the release of the "Sign In Please" album, was there any kind of interference from the record company in its making? 
RANDY: RCA  was great at first!!!! But they didn't even want "Turn Up The Radio" on the album!! We changed their minds later!!!
CRISS: How would you describe the relationship among the members of the original band line-up? How did you get along with the other four guys?
RANDY: The band got along great for the most part , I only knew Plunket in the band at first!!!
CRISS: We all know that Autograph's biggest song ever was "Turn Up The Radio". How did you feel when you listened to it for the first time and  when you first listened to its huge airplay?
RANDY: We all knew from the start that "Turn Up The Radio" was gonna be huge !!!!!!!! We were not surprised by the song's success! It still holds up!
CRISS: Still about "Turn Up The Radio"... How did you like its promo video then and how do you feel when you watch it now?
RANDY: I thought the product placement was pure CHEESE, HATED IT, but the video did turn out great!!!!!!
CRISS: Autograph's songwriting was all about Plunkett. Was it either something natural or something the other guys in the band just had to accept?
RANDY: Plunket made sure he was a part of every song, good or bad!!!!! There was friction there!!!!!
CRISS: "Sign In Please" still is Autograph's best selling album till this day. I actually think "That's The Stuff" and "Loud And Clear" better albums than the band's debut. What's your personal opinion about the band's three first albums and which one is your favorite? Also, which are your favorite songs from that Autograph era?
RANDY: I think all three albums are fantastic in there own way!! My favorite songs change all the time!!!!!
CRISS: The "That's The Stuff" album, my personal favorite, is a curious one. What can you say about its various versions that were released? I mean, why did it have two album covers, the blue and the red one, and why was it first released in some countries with either "We're An American Band" or "Six String Fever"?
RANDY: Trust me, when I say I don't know why they changed the album covers, I never cared about that kinda stuff back then!!!! We did "We're An American Band" because of the Russian band by the same name! I still think that was a silly thing to do!!!!!!
CRISS: What was the real reason for the original  Autograph line-up to disband? We'd love to know your side of the story... Was it any kind of turmoil among the band members? Any bad feelings towards anyone?
RANDY: We disbanded because we weren't picked up by RCA and no other company had a good enough deal for us!!!! Then there was Nirvana!!!!! No hard feelings, just time to move on!!!!!!!
CRISS: How do you feel about the "Missing Pieces" album, which was released long after the original Autograph had called its quits? What's your opinion about this album, since there are so many great, then unreleased songs on it?
RANDY: "Missing Pieces" was released without mine to Steve Lynch's consent , It was just the demos for the album we never made!
CRISS: You must have listened to the "Buzz" album that Steve Plunkett released as an Autograph album some years ago. What did you think of it? Did Plunkett approach you at any time to be on that album? If not, how did you feel about it?
RANDY: The "Buzz" album ------------------- Not my cup of tea and had nothing to do with Autograph.
CRISS: Little was known about you since the original Autograph parted ways. Can you talk about what you did back then, besides being successful leather clothing designer, especially for the Harley-Davidson brand. Can you tell us a little about it? Also, did you have any other bands or contribute to any musical projects during the Autograph hiatus?

RANDY: After doing leather stuff for Easyrider stores and catalog I moved on to another project with my local competition leather artist Steve Batky and formed Woofwear ----- Highend Dog and cat collars!!!!! I did that for 14 years. I didn't touch a bass from 1989 till 2014, so after all this time it was fun to start playing again.
CRISS: So, let's talk about the Autograph reunion... Whose idea was it and how did it happen? Was Plunkett ever approached to do it? What's your side of the story?
RANDY: I met up with Lynch at the NAMM, so in 2012, and I had not seen him in twenty-three years, and it was like we never had been apart , we were roommates on the road for five years! That's when we stared throwing the idea around to maybe have a reunion gig! I asked Plunk, but he declined and gave us his blessings!!!!!
CRISS: I told Steve that, in my opinion, Simon Daniels was the right choice for the reformed Autograph. When the reunion was announced, original drummer Keni Richards was also back in the band, but suddenly out again. What happened for his not staying in the band? Again, your side of the story is important... Also, how wat it to find out your fantastic new drummer Marc Weiland?
RANDY: Simon is an AMAZING writer, showman, singer and guitar player!!!!! I can not say enough about him !!! And a brother and a wonderful friend!!!!!!!!!!!! Keni has health issues!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Me and Marc have played together like we've been in the same band for a hundred years! We have a great bond and friendship! He is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!
CRISS: Did you ever think an Autograph comeback tour would have been as successful as it was? What can you say about this particular tour? What were its best moments n your opinion?
RANDY: I always wanted a reunion but I never would of guess that it would be this great!!!!!!!!!! My favorite gig was Firefest in Nottingham, England! Autograph never played England before and the reception was fucking amazing!!!!! Not to say there isn't a shit load more, but you ask me my very fav. Any gig I play with this line up is magical!!!!!!
CRISS: The "Louder" EP was the expected result of the new material that would come up soon after the tour. It has proved that Autograph still is a great band, with a fresh, new sound that also takes us back to the band's well known style it became famous for. How did the songwriting process happen? Was it any hard to deliver such great songs, having in mind that comparisons would arise, since Plunkett's songwriting skills have always been considered to be great as well? I asked Steve the same question too, but we all would like to know how you feel about it...
RANDY: The song writing process is ideas are thrown out there and Simon puts them together! He needs to feel what he's singing! Great way to write! Not to be an ass, but if it wasn't for the talent of the band Plunk's songs wouldn't have been as good!!!! 
CRISS: Which is your favorite track off "Louder" and why?
RANDY: I like all of the tracks on "Louder", it's our new line-up coming out gift to the world and our fans!!!!!!!!! 
CRISS: A brand new, full-length Autograph is being made. What can you say about the forthcoming material?
RANDY: All of the new material is fucking AWESOME!!!!!! Can't wait to release them on the world!!!!!!!!!
CRISS: In short, how do you compare the reformed Autograph to its original line-up?
RANDY: The new line-up has a heavier sound and a more modern sound and feel, I wouldn't have come back just to rehash the past, even though it's a great legacy and the songs hold up!!!!!!! And they are fun to play still!!!!!!!!
CRISS: How do you see Autograph in the near future? Of course, lots of more touring on the way...
RANDY: Writing more songs and doing more shows!!!!!!!! I love the chemistry in this band!!!! We will do this until no one wants to listen!!!!!!!
CRISS: Thanks a million for the interview, Randy! It's such an honor to interview one of my favorite bass players ever, who has always been a childhood hero of mine too! Anything else you'd like to add?
RANDY: THANK YOU, CRISS!!!!!! Thank you for your kind words and support for the new line up!!!!!!! YOU ARE US, WE ARE YOU!!!!!!!!! TURN IT UP!!!!!!!! CHEERS!!!!!!!