Warrant stays in style

Warrant will play at Wiens Family Cellars, 35055 Via Del Ponte, Friday, Sept. 6, at 6 p.m. in Temecula. Courtesy photo

There is no doubt that classic rock is popular, especially when it comes to live shows. Bands from the 70s and 80s continue to sell out shows across the country.

“The songs, all those classic rock songs, have stood the test of time,” Warrant guitarist Erik Turner said. “I think it’s filling a void. We play the kind of style of melodic hard rock, and I can’t name a new band in last 10 years that fits in our genre that fits in a big way.”

Warrant will play at Wiens Family Cellar, 35055 Via Del Ponte, Friday, Sept. 6, at 6 p.m. in Temecula.

The band emerged on the Los Angeles rock scene in the early 80s, signing with Columbia Records in 1988 and releasing their first album, “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich,” the following year. The album was a huge success, spawning four hits: “Heaven,” “Sometimes She Cries,” “Down Boys” and “Big Talk.”
“It’s the 30th anniversary of ‘Dirty Rotten,’ so we are doing the first nine out of 10 songs in a row from that record, and then we dig in with some from ‘Dog Eat Dog’ and ‘Cherry Pie’ and one new song,” he said. “The songs take you back, and I think we have a good set list and it’s really a good time.”

Early on, Turner was influenced heavily by such bands as Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and AC/DC.

“If I was sent to a deserted island and could only take three records with me it would be ‘Toys in the Attic,’ ‘Highway to Hell’ and ‘Physical Graffiti,’” he said. “Of course, I go into everything else as well. I wasn’t just a strict metal head, but I got into the British metal scene to, into Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Saxon.”

But those early influences stay strong.

“Ironically, the last two days at the gym I’ve been listening to (AC/DC’s) ‘High Voltage,’” he said. “AC/DC’s lyrics are just so colorful and politically incorrect.”

Of course, being in the business so long, Turner can point to a lot of interesting elements to the whole process.

“Here’s a cool story,” he said. “Jani (Lane) wanted his brother to have a chance to play on a record, so he flew Rick into L.A., and he’s an acoustic player and we needed an intro to ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin.’ We put him in the booth and his playing sounded great, but then the producer hit the record button and he just tightened up, didn’t feel loose. So our producer just told him to keep warming up, and he hit the record button without telling him, and he laid down a great intro.”

Neil Schon’s classic solo to “Who’s Cryin’ Now” and Slash’s opening riff – and the one played throughout the song – to “Sweet Child ‘O Mine,” share similar stories.

“I was told Slash would do that to warm up, and someone in the band said they needed to use that in a song and it became one of the most iconic riffs,” he said.

He said he never knows where a song will come from.

“There are times when I will pick up my guitar with music in mind and stuff comes out of nowhere,” he said. “That’s happened a lot. I did have a dream one night that I was at a concert backstage and I started writing something. I woke up and had the riff and laid it down before I forgot it. That turned into ‘Velvet Noose.’ One minute I have no idea what I’m doing, and then the next minute I feel like I am going to create the light bulb.”

Ultimately, it’s about having fun at work.

“You just get to self-indulge and create music and it’s fun to record,” he said. “You get to create something you are proud to play for your friends.”

And there are no limits to where the band can go for inspiration, such as recording the Merle Haggard song, “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.”

“That was a request from the PBR, the Professional Bull Riders Association,” he said. “They asked us to do a cover of it. We’ve been close friends for a long time and it’s a really fun sport, incredible to see in person, and it can be scary. There are people who get killed doing it, just like racecar driving. Well, they think we are a bunch of drinkers so they asked us to do that song.”

For Turner, the band’s success is built around flexibility and fun, but also consistency.

“We have always gone out and toured and kept writing songs,” he said. “There are bands that hung it up, but others didn’t and that’s the key to our longevity. We go out and tour every year wherever we can.”

Tickets for general admission are $60; VIP tickets are $99; a VIP table of four is $395 and a VIP table of 10 is $950. For more information, call (951) 658-2411 or visit https://www.wienscellars.com/Reservation-Events.

Jim Dail is an English professor and longtime freelance writer in the Temecula area covering performances at local wineries, casinos, Old Town Temecula and other venues. His specialty is pop, rock, country and jazz performers, as well as stage performances. His writing can be found at www.temeculaentertainment.com.