I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Klaus Eichstadt, guitarist of the multi-platinum rock act Ugly Kid Joe, about the band’s newest record Stairway To Hell. I was a big fan of their music back in the day and I was quite stoked to see them once again back in the saddle. Here is how the conversation with Klaus went.
Now that Stairway To Hell is complete, how do you feel about it and are you satisfied with the outcome?
Klaus: Yeah, totally. I couldn’t be happier. It was the first time I worked with Dave as a producer and it was probably one of the smoothest recording sessions I have ever done, especially considering we haven’t done this in a while. I think it is because we are such good friends that it did not even seem like we were working with a producer, it was like working with your buddy, you know? So that went great and we are totally happy with the outcome.
What is your writing process like?
Klaus: We have done everything from one guy in the band writing a whole song; every word and every note, to all five guys pitching in and writing together.
Check out the song “I’m Alright”
When you are writing are you doing so with the live setting in mind or how it’s going to come across on the stage, or are you just writing the song for the song’s sake?
Klaus: Sometimes you are writing and you think “ah this will be a cool tempo for a live song” and you kind of go with it. I think sometimes when you are writing songs you don’t always think about it, but then when you have like three ideas or three songs and you listen to them back you can hear one that would be killer live and then you hone in on that a little more.
The last record you released was back in 1996, with that being said how did this one come about? Was it just percolating in the background?
Klaus: I would say the only percolation started maybe like three years ago when Dave and Shannon were working on the Godsmack record. They had some beers and started thinking about it and the next thing we know we were getting calls from both of them wanting to get the band back together. We started working together and within a year we were back in the studio.
What’s it like being back together?
Klaus: There are cool déjà vu moments, cool nostalgic moments and we often find ourselves saying things like, “remember this or remember that.” The cool thing is that when the band broke up we all remained real good friends; it is just rare that we are all five together. So for the last year or so we have been together and that is always fun!
The whole music business has changed dramatically since you guys were together. Was it hard to get used to? I mean back then computers weren’t very popular yet and you were probably not doing anything in the digital realm, right?
Klaus: Yeah it is completely different. Back then we were using 2 inch analog tape and everything was punched in, there was no ProTools or anything. Maybe on the last record we used a little bit of ProTools but everything else was done analog with a big old tape machine and a great big mixing board. Now it is insane; you can do all of it on your laptop. Another thing that has changed dramatically is that now there are no real hard copies of records anymore.
I know and I am real old school when it comes to things like that; I still want the hard copy of the CD and I find it disturbing that I can’t go to the record store on Tuesdays and pick up a new record because everything is digital.
Klaus: It is crazy, it is convenient as hell in one respect because if you hear a song on the radio and you don’t know who it is you can hum the song into your phone and it finds it for you right away. You can then download it on your phone for .99 cents immediately and you never really think about the band or the artists ever again which is sad because the album probably has a whole bunch of really good stuff on it that you will never hear.
Oh yeah and I am totally all about reading the liner notes and the inside of the jewel case, I want to know where it was recorded, who mastered it, and even who the band thanks.
Klaus: We are all still definitely old school too; we grew up with fold out double album live stuff with a huge picture of the band inside. We were talking the other day about how Cheap Trick would do this concept thing with their records where they would have the two pretty boy dudes on the front cover riding Harleys and the two rad looking goofy guys riding mopeds on the back cover.
No one even cares about that much anymore. I have a teenage son and he will just go out and download the one song he likes and that is it. He could care less about the artwork and credits.
Klaus: Yeah with the one digital picture that is made for iPhones. Because the biggest the album is going to be seen is the size of an iPad or something.
Alright getting back to the record now, are there any tracks on Stairway To Hell that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
Klaus: It is funny because each song on the record has had its moment with me, but I have always liked the song “Devils Paradise.” It is one of those songs that just came together perfectly and it is such a neat song to play live; it is a lot different than most of our other stuff, especially the tempo. At first I struggled with it because it is different than what I am used to. Now I just love playing it live.
You guys have been doing this for a really long time. Did you ever imagine you would still be playing music and that you would still be playing music with Ugly Kid Joe?
Klaus: To tell you the truth I did not. I thought maybe we would get together after twenty years on an island or somewhere just for fun. Something nostalgic maybe, do two or three show or something, but I really didn’t think we would ever get the band back together, make a record, and start touring again.
What has been the response from the fans so far?
Klaus: It has been great so far. We played some clubs in Europe and we played the new stuff. We were not apprehensive, just curious to see if people really wanted to hear this new stuff or if they were all old fans just wanting to hear the old stuff. But the shows were packed and people were singing along to all of our new stuff and it was just great. It was really cool!
Obviously you still have your old school fans, but I imagine you are making a lot of new fans as well? That must be cool to have different generations of fans.
Klaus: We were trying to figure that out as well, what the average age of the crowd was and it was a pretty good mix. There were some old school people like you, probably about 70 percent, but there was this weird younger thing going on too. We have been meeting people at the shows who will come up to us and they have their 18 year old kids with them or something. People saying things like, “you guys were my first concert ever and now you’re my son’s as well.” That is pretty rad man!
Check out the song “No One Survives”