Cinderella were one the biggest bands of the 80’s. The band has sold 15 million albums worldwide. Guitarist Jeff LaBar, who has just released his first solo album, One For The Road, on Rat Pak Records, (http://www.ratpakrecordsamerica.com/) answered our 20 Questions.
1. What attracted you to the guitar?
My older brother, Jack played guitar & I always looked up to him, wanting to do everything he did. He was the coolest guy I knew & I wanted to be just like him. He turned me on to rock music of the 70’s & it was game on.
2. What was your first guitar and how did you get it? What are you playing now?
Each time Jack got a new guitar, he’d give me his old one, starting with a Teisco. Now I play Les Pauls, Strats, Teles, Kramers & Epiphone acoustics.
3. Who was your biggest musical influence?
I learned to play by listening to Zeppelin & Sabbath. Jimmy Page & Tony Iommi were basically my guitar teachers. Then I discovered the old Alice Cooper band & that’s what I wanted do.
4. What was the first concert you ever saw?
I think my 1st concert was “Yes” in 1973. My parents were music fans too & started taking me to concerts at 10 years old.
5. The Beatles or the Stones? Why?
Beatles 1st & foremost. I learned how to play acoustic guitar from the Beatles Complete songbook. I’m more Zeppelin than Stones but of course they’re great too.
6. Do you remember the first Cinderella show? Where was it? How many people were there?
Cinderella played the same club in S Jersey every Saturday at midnight before getting signed. The 1st show on tour was opening for Loudness with Poison (also their 1st tour) at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in front of about 3000.
7. Money aside, which is better for a band or guitarist: 20,000 seats arenas, 5000 seat auditoriums or clubs?
Hey, the more the merrier! The bigger the stage, the more fun it is.
8. Is there one show you played that stands out more than any others?
The shows that stand out are the firsts. The 1st time I walked into an arena in Hampton VA as an opener at the start of David Lee Roth’s 1st solo tour, the 1st show at the Spectrum in Philly with all my family & friends there & our 1st show in Tokyo with my mom & all my Japanese family in attendance
9. How important is image? Would Cinderella have been as successful if you had worn jeans and t-shirts wish short hair?
Hey, we looked the way we looked because we were cool. I would never have gone on stage in jeans & a t-shirt. I dress up to perform because the clothes make the difference between everyday work & entertainer. Plus I’ve never had short hair, even in my day jobs.
10. What’s the one piece of gear you can’t live without? Is your studio rig the same as your live setup?
My 1980 white (yellowed) Gibson custom shop Les Paul is my baby but I can’t live without my Marshall amps. Three 100 watt half stacks run left, right stereo with a delay cab in the middle.
11. Why did it take so long for you to release your first solo album, One For The Road?
Because Cinderella worked so much & I did a few side projects with Eric (Brittingham, Cinderella bassist).
12. In Cinderella, Tom Keifer wrote all the music. How much input did you and the rest of the band have on the songs? What were the recording sessions like for the new album, with all the extra pressure on your shoulders?
Eric & I had a lot of input as far as arranging. Tom would sometimes come in with a skeleton of a song & we would make sense out of it, coming up with solo sections & bridges. We all helped each other out while recording. I didn’t have that recording my record, the other guys to lean on for help. It was just me & my engineer, Ronnie Honeycutt but that’s the way I wanted to do it… A true solo record.
13. What was it about the music of the 80s, the Hair Metal, for lack of a better term, that makes it stand up so well? Many of the bands from that era are still touring to great success. Was the 80s music scene really as crazy as people say?
For one, it was called rock music at the time, or hard rock. They only reference the hair or glam now. I think all good music stands the test of time, regardless of the flavor. Touring in the 80s was as decadent as you’ve heard, probably more. We were a traveling circus & the biggest party in your town. The problem was that it became common place for us every night. Crazy was just another day at the office.
14. Cinderella changed to a very bluesy sound after the first album. How did this change in direction come about? How did the record company feel about it?
The story is so typical that it’s cliche. 1st record, the producer & label pick the songs from an adolescent band’s demos & 2nd record, we do pretty much what we want. It wasn’t much of a change to us or our label.
15. What are the three most important things every aspiring guitarist should know? Hmm… Practice melodies, vibrato & feel. Don’t go for speed or technical shit. Music fans don’t care how hard it is to play. Songwriting, good songwriting stands out. Once a song is done, don’t dwell, move on. Get with the right people. Musicians, friends, family & business partners can make the difference between success & frustration.
16. When did you know you had ‘made it’ as a musician? Was there a “WOOHOO” moment?
The moment I walked into that arena in Hampton, VA & Dave walked up behind me welcoming me to the tour.
17. If you could form a dream band, with musicians alive or dead, what would the line-up be and which song would you cover first? John Bonham, John Taylor, Rick Wakeman & Ronnie James Dio. Kashmir.
18. What’s the best guitar you’ve ever played?
The ’59 Sunburst Les Paul, Tom gave me.
19. What’s the greatest guitar song ever recorded?
“Nightmare on my Street”! JK I’d have to say “Heartbreaker”, Zeppelin. I also have to give a shout out to Nuno & Extreme with “Play with Me” from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
20. What does the future hold? More solo albums? Cinderella? Touring?
The future is up for grabs right now. I may put a band together to tour “One for the Road”. I’m definitely gonna record a follow up EP called “Side B” or “2 for the road”. LOL As far as Cinderella, I’m not sure. We’re all so busy with other things, it wouldn’t surprise me if we toured again but it wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t.
21. I asked this question to KK Downing of Judas Priest. I would love to hear your answer: In one sentence, can you describe the feeling of what it’s like to step out on a stage in front of close to half a million people like you did at the Moscow Music Peace Festival in 1989?
It was the greatest single moment of my career!
Visit Rat Pak records:
Jeff LaBar Discography
- One For The Road (2014)
- Night Songs (1986)
- Long Cold Winter (1988)
- Heartbreak Station (1990)
- Still Climbing (1994)
- Freakshow (2009)