A child of the 1960s, George grew up in the civil rights and anti-war movements of the Flower Power decade. He says it made him into a progressive thinking person, but like anyone else, he's not without his flaws.
George has the posture of a man with no one to impress. Cool, candid, forthright and cynical, he speaks from the top of his head, rarely stammering in search of the right words.
"What I’ve found is that the general consensus...is ‘Yeah, [the band name is] kind of dumb. It’s insensitive, but we’ve got bigger problems,'" he says.
In George's world, the 'Lynch Mob' was originally a sub-group of Dokken fans who would stand on his side of the stage during shows. In 1989, as George was coming out of one band that was named after a key member (Don Dokken) he decided to start his own. And Dokken devotees already associated the Lynch Mob with George.
Still, the band name came with problems from day one. George says he's encountered people over the years of all races, including musicians he's collaborated with, who have encouraged him to ditch the name.
There might have been a time when George enjoyed the uphill battle the name brought, but times have changed. With all the racial tension in the U.S. and abroad, George couldn't justify touring with Lynch Mob ever again.
"The current political climate definitely put pressure on me to make the decision now," he says. "The other window of opportunity was the fact that we did this 30th anniversary [Wicked Sensation] record. That really supported the crux of the argument to kind of end the chapter and make this a bookend and tie this up in a nice, neat little bow."
George reunited this year with original Lynch Mob singer Oni Logan for the 30th anniversary edition of Wicked Sensation, a record of rearranged, re-imagined, alternate universe versions of songs from the band's 1990 debut. While the original album is sacred to plenty of fans, George says the new version is not meant to take anything away from the original record.
While the Lynch Mob band is finish, it will always be associated with George Lynch. Wicked Sensations (Reimagined) is a way to celebrate the old songs with something fresh and inspired — a positive ending to a complicated story.
Read the full QN'A below!
Photo: Alex Ruffin
It looks like you have been doing some road-tripping recently, how was that?
No, I’m actually ashamed to say I played a show. Five shows, actually, at Sturgis...so it was very strange.
I played it last year too, so I knew what I was in for [in terms of the political attitude]. I just rationalized it by thinking I’m just gonna camp. …I just took secondary roads and camped out under the stars every night, played my guitar around the campfire.
I got there. The only person I ever spoke to was my tech. We played this big outdoor stage. There was nobody allowed backstage, nobody allowed in my RV, just walk onstage, plug in, play an hour with my band and go up into the Black Hills for a week.
When it was time to come home, I came down through Wyoming, Utah, camped out every night, swam in the rivers, hiked, off-roaded. It was great. I turned it into a vacation.
So it was weird for you to be there among 500,000 people during a pandemic?
Obviously, I played the shows. So I saw that. For me it is a weird vibe, but it’s very telling and very revealing and very sad.
I’m a product of growing up in the late-‘60s – early-‘70s. I was drafted and was [*this* close] to actually having to go to Vietnam.
I grew up with the assassination of JFK, the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, all this stuff and then I watched Reagan come along and just dash everyone’s hope — a 180 and all the sudden, here we are with Trump, the natural extension of Reagan.
Me, going on 66 years old, having to live through this and having to worry about my kids and grandkids having to live in a world run by these kind of abhorrent policies that serve no one except the rich and powerful.
This reimagined Wicked Sensations record is very cool. These types of albums are often acoustic-based, but that’s not the route you took here. It's very rocking.
Just for one [acoustic] song, yeah.
What was the method for rebuilding these older songs?
I can’t say we put a whole lot of thought into it, but the thought we did put into it was essentially sitting around talking about it and going, ‘What about this? What about trying it this style?’
We had an idea for how we wanted to approach most of the songs, just talking about it and playing them at soundchecks and stuff like that.
At soundcheck we were playing "River of Love," a couple of the guys brought up "Sour Girl" by STP. We tried that tempo with "River." That was our guiding kind of light for that song, mimicking the STP vibe.
Then the drummer [Brian Tichy] and I got together. We spent a couple days like, ‘Let’s just go through the songs and map them out' ... kind of off the top of our heads. Like, ‘Oh, let’s make this one a little more Black Crowes/Rolling Stones-ish. Let’s try a more Zeppelin approach to this one.’
And in the recording, we’d make some notes of what we were talking about so we wouldn’t forget. Then when I got back to my home studio, I’d [use those notes]. It wasn’t rocket science. It was fun, actually, and pretty easy.
The record does sound like it was fun to make. Was this something you’d wanted to do for a while with this album?
No, it came about very quickly. There was a moment when the drummer Brian and I were at my storage unit getting some gear out or something. He was helping me. And he goes, ‘Hey, when did Wicked Sensation come out?’
I said, ‘I don’t know. I think ’89 or ’90 or something.’ So he looked it up and he goes, ‘Dude, this is your 30th anniversary!’ That was the beginning of the process.
And he came up with the reimagined idea, and he actually produced the record.
I like it. Lots of artists would have just done a remastered reissue with some old demos and live versions tacked on at the end.
We did work on this. We came up with a whole different narrative and we recorded a whole new thing.
It wasn’t like we took the songs and played them like we always do and regurgitated it. We put a lot of love into it, and we made it fun and exciting and interesting.
Do you think you’ll play these tunes live the way you redid them?
There’s no touring. They stopped touring. You probably haven’t gotten out of the house.
Yeah, I’ve been in here for like six months.
(Laughs) Dude, where’d you get your haircut? How’d you get that?
In New Jersey haircuts are legal now.
What? New Jersey has the highest, like, [COVID-19] deaths and stuff! Probably because of haircuts.
The coronavirus numbers have stayed relatively-low here since June; they haven’t resurged like in other places.
I know. I’m sort of kidding.
You’re also retiring the Lynch Mob name. Why did you feel like doing that at this point?
Well, I didn’t have to do it, and I probably never should have named the band that in the first place. Different time, different place, [I was] a younger person — probably a little ignorant — though always aware of what the name actually implies, despite it [including] my last name.
I knew it was always an insensitive thing. I just rationalized it and said, ‘Okay, whatever.’ I can deal with it, the name works, I’m just going with it.
Over the years, I’ve had problems with it, with other musicians and people I’ve played with that are very active in fighting racism.
I am a very progressive, liberal person. I've fought political battles and environmental battles my whole life.
I think because I know that about myself, I gave myself a pass, because I know myself (laughs). But other people don’t know me.
The current political climate definitely put pressure on me to make the decision now. The other window of opportunity was the fact that we did this 30th anniversary record. That really supported the crux of the argument to kind of end the chapter and make this a bookend and tie this up in a nice, neat little bow.
It just seemed like it happened, even though I didn’t decide for it to happen. It happened anyways.
With Black Lives Matter, all the political turmoil and strife, the pandemic, no more touring. We just redid the first record we ever did, our most successful record, we reinterpreted it — bookends. End of story.
Why didn’t you call it The George Lynch Band or something in the first place? Why have a band and not just be known as a solo artist?
‘Cause Lynch Mob is cool. It’s a cool name.
It actually grew out of a sub-group of Dokken fans in the ‘80s that would be sort of in my corner, on my side of the stage and I’d throw guitar picks to them.
Some fan came up with that name and [was] throwing picks at me that said that, and that’s where we got it.
It just kind of grew. When Dokken broke up, I thought, ‘Let’s just keep that going.’
Yeah, and Cory Glover from Living Colour, who I’m also in another band project with, Ultraphonix, and also Angelo Moore, singer from Fish Bone, who I’m in another project with called Project Infidelica and many other people. People of color, black, brown or just white people I play with that are a lot more sensitive and smarter about all these race issues and things.
We discussed it backwards and forwards and endlessly.
What I’ve found is that the general consensus is that people I’ve worked with that care about this stuff deeply is ‘Yeah, it’s kind of dumb, it’s insensitive, but we’ve got bigger problems (laughs).’
I kind of feel that way too. I’m not as much concerned with a football team’s name, although I get it, it’s insensitive, it’s a stereotype, yada yada. But I’m much more concerned with Native Americans having access and control over their resources and their destiny.
Reparations in some way [should] align with enforcing treaties — 500 treaties — that were broken by our government. Treaties signed under the rule of law.
Naming a football team? Yeah, insensitive, wrong, but give these guys their water rights back. You stole 98 percent of their land and built a trillion-dollar economy on it — you stole all of that from them. They’re the only real Americans. Recognize it so that policies can be built going forward that bring some kind of closure and some kind of fairness that we’re being honest with ourselves and doing the right thing.
So that’s my thinking.
But yeah, it’s wrong to have the name Lynch Mob. It’s wrong to have the name Redskins. But I just like to prioritize as well.