Friday, August 30, 2002

Interview: Jerry Dixon of Warrant

When it comes to 1980s "hair bands," few have suffered more barbs than Warrant.

The band that sold seven million albums in the late '80s and early '90s somehow became the punchline of a joke during the grunge era. Even today, magazines and television point to the band as one of the key factors in the end of rock's era of excess.

But bassist and founding member Jerry Dixon says the band subscribes to the theory that there's no such thing as bad press. He says they don't take the taunts and jokes personally, and they're happy as long as people are talking about them.

"Somebody has to take the blame, but it's all good," says Dixon. "You've got to have a thick skin in this business to be around this long. You can't get bummed out over something like that."

Dixon admits that the band's current image likely stems from some of the moves they made early in their career. He points out the infamous boy band-like matching white suits from the "Heaven" video as a perfect example. He says they were hungry to succeed and willing to do just about anything.

"I think we made some stupid moves and bad decisions, maybe, in some of our videos," he says. "At that point, we were so young. You'd like to think you were in control of your career, but in reality, you're 19 years old. I mean, I couldn't even drink alcohol yet. We left ourselves wide open for a lot of that, but we did our best."

Despite the scorn thrown their way in recent years, Warrant has managed to survive into the new millennium. They pull into the Monroe Civic Center on Thursday on the Metal Edge Rock Fest tour with fellow '80s acts Dokken, Ratt, L.A. Guns and Firehouse. It's a tour that might have had ego problems back in the heyday of those bands, but Dixon says they've all grown up now.

"There's been a lot of camaraderie," says Dixon. "We're all grown up and past that. It's fun to fight with other bands when you're just coming out - lip off a little bit, get in some barroom fights. After a while, we realized we're just happy to be doing this, and you get respect for other bands that have been around as long as us."

Dixon says the shows are drawing good crowds, and he sees a renewed interest in Warrant's brand of music. He says it might have something to do with the times.

"I think there is so much heavy stuff going on in the world, and people remember our era of music as good times, good shows and just kind of a night out on the town," he says. "I think with all of the stuff going on, people just want to go out and have fun. They don't want to go to a show and hear things that are too heavy and too close to home."

Whatever the case, Dixon says the band is getting a huge response when they crank out hits like "Cherry Pie" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin." That's not to say they don't get a little tired of those songs.

"I hate when bands do interviews and say `we still love to play that song,'" Dixon says with a laugh. "It gets repetitious, but at the same time, it's a double-edged sword. You're so glad to have that song because if it wasn't for those songs like `Heaven,' we wouldn't be here."

But when the crowd explodes with the opening riff of "Down Boys" or "Cherry Pie," Dixon says it's all worth it.

"I think the crowd reaction to those songs is so much more intense that it balances the excitement out on stage for us," he says.

And for the fans that don't get enough of Dixon on stage, he also has his own soap. Each heart-shaped bar from Soap Grooves contains one of Dixon's guitar picks. He laughs as he talks about it.

"Somebody had contacted me from; it's a Web site that makes these crazy soaps with dollheads - kind of rock `n' roll stuff," he says. "I sent them some picks, and they sent this soap back. I thought it was hilarious, so I put it on my Web site. I thought if somebody wanted a pick, it would be a cool way to get a pick."

As for Warrant, they hope to get into the studio once this tour is over and work on a new album.

"I'd like to put out a good product and go out and hopefully just keep touring," he says. "There's hope that we can really be around for a long time. So we're just trying to keep the wheels on, keep everyone sane and straight and keep it going."

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