The Ultimate Jam Night Interviews with Ron Young of Little Caesar
It was time for another raging edition of Ultimate Jam Night, with the epic 68th chapter taking place on June 28th at the world famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip. One of the bands making a special appearance was none of than Hollywood’s own Little Caesar, who performed a short yet dynamic three song set of hard hitting rock and roll. Best known for their two releases under the Geffen Records banner in the early 90’s, Little Caesar has just issued a brand new live recording aptly entitled Brutally Honest – Live From Holland.
Right after their exhilarating performance, we caught up with Little Caesar’s front man Ron Young backstage at the Whisky for an interview. Hard rocking topics discussed included their participation in Ultimate Jam Night 68, working with the legendary Randy Bachman on their classic cut Down And Dirty, why Gene Simmons of KISS disliked one particular Little Caesar song so much, and other brutally honest topics of intrigue. Read on…
Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in Little Caesar.
Hi, I’m Ron Young and I’m the lead vocalist in Little Caesar.
Ron, how did you wind up here on Ultimate Jam Night and how many jam nights have you performed in the past?
Well, we got invited down earlier in the week by Adam, one of the coordinators, and so we love coming down, love supporting him, love just seeing all our musician friends, so we just jumped on it. We were here two months ago right before we left for our European tour. So, it’s a nice little sandwich framework between our little tour that we just did.
When was the first time you played here at The Whiskey, what can you remember?
Oh Man, that was probably 1987, we had just formed. I can’t remember who we played with but this was in the heyday of the Sunset Strip so it was just such a blast. Back then it was just so vibrant and electric and crazy, and there was all these guys that you would see around the rehearsal places and then you come up on the strip and they’re just hanging out at Tattoo Mania, the tattoo shop that was just down the street, and then coming to play here and then going up to the Rainbow. It was just wild, it was such a good time.
What did you think of Cathouse Live and how hot it was there?
Oh my god it was really hot. It was great you know I’ve known Riki (Rachtman) for so long and you know all those bands and just all the fans from back in that period of time. I’m kind of glad because the stage we played on, we had shade on us so we were really grateful for that. It was really such a really great atmosphere of excitement and nostalgia, and it was really a lot of fun.
You have a new live album out, any story behind the title Brutally Honest?
You know so many bands put out live records and they go back in the studio and clean up vocals and fix some solos. We listened to it and we thought that even with the imperfections, it would be better and more honest and more sincere if we just put it out exactly as it was. Just mix it , don’t clean everything up, don’t autotune anything, none of that. So we just figured Brutally Honest, We were just putting this out there and being brutally honest about our show that night. So that’s why we picked the title.
You have a new song on there, “Crushed Velvet.” Tell me about that.
Well that song is inspired by – I know a lot of women in this town that are still going as if they were 22 and they’re not. They’re like 42 going toward 52. Yeah, I’m being kind. And they’re not looking so good and they’re still trying to dress and behave the way they did in their youth. And so it was inspirational to write a song about one of those ladies. I don’t know many of them. Almost all the people I know from back in the day have grown older gracefully and with class. but there’s still a few out there that are still trying to go until the wheels fall off. I’m amazed they still have wheels. So, we wrote a song about it, it;s going to be on the next studio album that we do. But it’s coming out as a live version before we ever hit record in the studio version.
How soon before we have a new Little Caesar studio album?
It’s probably going to be 8-10 months. We’re all just kind of recuperating from this tour that we did and so tonight was the first time we’ve played together in a month. We’re going to start getting back in and finish writing and pre-production and getting in to knock out a record.
What was it like working with Randy Bachman on the song Down and Dirty?
Man, Randy is such a fun guy. He’s so easygoing. There’s no “Rock Star” about him. They had such great stories to tell us and it was great because you know we wrote the song with him, he came down to our rehearsal place that was behind Guitar Center. We had a little room behind Guitar Center, back where like Guns N’ Roses used to rehearse. El Duce was like living in the alleyway. Yeah, there was just some real characters back then and it was great. And (Randy) came down and we wrote with him and we just put the song together really quick. We went in the studio to demo it and we were like “It would be really great if we had some piano on this.” And he told us some great stories but he was like “Well, the way we did it on Taking Care of Business, we put some colored tape on the few keys that you can hit and we’ll be in tune.” So we’ll put some colored tape on and we’ll just hit ’em. Because none of us really knew how to play keyboards and we did it and it was on the demo and it was just so much fun. You know being around somebody like that, with his legacy of great songs and two fabulous bands. For us as an up and coming band at the time, to work with someone like that was just such an honor and a treat.
Why did Gene Simmons not like your song Hard Times?
Gene Simmons didn’t like a lot of stuff we did. He didn’t like our goatees and he didn’t like our song Hard Times. “It shouldn’t be about reality. You shouldn’t point out anybody’s reality.” There should be sex, drugs, well, not drugs really for him but sex rock and roll, party, party. And we were trying to be more of a blue-collar, down to earth, working man’s band. And that really kind of got under his skin and the goatee was like “What’s with the facial hair? What is this? 1977?” And then 6 weeks later he’s got a goatee, so I thought that was pretty funny. Gene’s a character man. He’s such a larger than life figure. So you take it for what it’s worth and you make it your own or you go “Oh thanks for the input Gene, but no thanks.
One of the songs you played tonight was on your latest album American Dream. Tell me about that particular track?
Well, Hard Rock Hell I wrote as kind of the story of our career. You know, because we came up on the Sunset Strip and we didn’t wear makeup – we didn’t tease our hair – we didn’t tuck our pants into our boots and do all of that. We were more motorcycle guys, you know? And so I just try to get all of that in the lyrics, because Geffen (Records) was putting a lot of pressure on us to shave and put on pretty clothes. And then you see all these other bands that sold a lot of records nut it doesn’t mean they’re really great players. They were really successful, they wrote some catchy songs at the right time with the right producer. I won’t name any names and it doesn’t really matter. So I just try to throw all that in there as just a quick little synopsis of our career.
What’s up next for Little Caesar?
You know, probably getting in and write and record. I do a few shows to keep the blood pumping; but we really want to do a new studio record. We have Alex Kane in the band now. Speak of the devil there he is, and he’s a great player and a great writer so we can’t wait to see what his little spice to the stew on the songwriting is going to be and all of that stuff.
Thank you to Lisa Woodard and Ultimate Jam Night for setting up this interview. Be sure to check out Ultimate Jam Night every Tuesday at the world famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip!
(Interview by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)