How Tracii Guns Played an L.A. Guns Concert From a Bathroom
L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns has weathered plenty of interesting gigs across his years in the music business, but until last year, he'd never played a concert from a bathroom.
He arrived in Plano, Tex., for the next stop on the band's tour with Tom Keifer and realized it would be a problem for him to perform in the sweltering heat due to his panic disorder. "While I have it 95% under control, heat is the remaining trigger and I simply cannot play in the heat," he wrote on social media.
Initially, some people suspected the band might forge ahead as a four-piece. But bassist Johnny Martin helped to hatch a different plan. "I will be playing in a comfy bathroom directly behind the stage where there is air conditioning," Guns wrote. "I will do an Instagram live stream during the set if y’all really need to watch me play. I apologize for my crazy brain."
With L.A. Guns set to release their latest album, Black Diamonds, on Friday, UCR spoke with the guitarist to hear the story of how he was able to strap on his guitar and keep rocking.
You made headlines last year when L.A. Guns played a concert with you performing from a bathroom. First of all, mental health is no laughing matter. As a fan, it was pretty crazy to read that you had done that.
It was. The coolest thing about that is that it seemed like a huge deal. Like, Tom Keifer came up to me at the truck stop and goes, “No one’s ever done that before. I just witnessed history.” We were laughing about it after the show. It kind of dawned on me, like, “I guess not, I think you’re right.” The next morning, when I woke up, it’s everywhere [in the news]. I couldn’t get away from it. “Dude plays in bathroom.” [Laughs] You know, I’m like, “Yeah, I did.” But it was the easiest thing in the world because we have technology. Johnny, our bass player, suggested doing that. I can’t deal with the heat. I’ll die. ... I’ll die. So if a situation like that comes up again, I’ll do exactly the same thing if it’s possible. I don’t want to go into my diagnosis, because it’s nobody’s fuckin’ business. But yeah, if I get too hot, I’ll die. It’s as simple as that.
Watch L.A. Guns Perform 'The Ballad of Jayne' in Plano, Texas
It speaks in one sense to how tight you guys are as a band. But how did you pull it off?
I use this digital pedalboard that has all of my sounds in it. So I don’t have to have my whole rig with me to play. As long as I have this pedalboard and a powered speaker, I’m good. I can hear me. That’s good. But how did I hear the band? That’s the question. I’m so lucky. They just pulled a monitor into the bathroom I was in, and here’s where the technology really comes in — I was able to do my own mix on their console out there onstage, with my phone. I could get the drums, vocals, my guitar, Ace [Von Johnson]’s guitar and everything. At sound check, we did it, and I’d like to do that every night. [Laughs] It was so controlled. You know, I had a microphone, I had my guitar, my guitar speaker and a monitor. It was probably realistically about 90 decibels, which is such a nice volume. It’s like, “Wow, this is nice and loud.” But it was articulate. I could hear everything. It was like I was listening to a record really loud. We just did it. There wasn’t much discussion about it. It was like, “Alright, here we go.” There might have been one ending that got really weird, but maybe not. I think I dreamed about it a lot after, like all of the horrible things that could have gone wrong. But it didn’t — it worked.
It shouldn’t be that big of a deal. As you’ve been talking about this, I’ve been thinking how for many years, there have been bands with an offstage keyboardist and things like that. It’s been done.
Oh, absolutely. You know, I get a lot of shit … for people at that show and another show that we canceled because of the heat. People own you … and that’s fucked up, man. It’s just fucked up. It’s like, “I paid $16 to fuckin’ see you and you pussed out.” It’s like, “Really? How much did you spend on coffee that morning and how much did you not drink of that coffee?” That bullshit attitude and entitlement, it kind of muddies the water. People with their negative attention-grabbing. There hasn’t been much of it, but there’s been a little bit of it. And to those people — go fuck yourselves, man! I don’t give a fuck. You know, I’d rather be alive than give somebody $16 worth of Tracii Guns. You can have your 16 bucks back.
Watch Tracii Guns Perform From a Backstage Bathroom in Plano, Texas