Paul Crook - Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Matt Phelps   
Thursday, 14 January 2010 22:24

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Here's the deal; Gaz E mentioned in his Über Blög from the Hard Rock Hell festival that he was due to interview Marya Roxx and the guitarist in her band, Paul Crook, but Paul didn't show up. Fast forward a few weeks and an email from Paul turns up at ÜRHQ saying that he knew nothing about the proposed interview and felt bad about it.

 

Being the good guy that he is, Paul offered to be interviewed for Über Röck and, knowing that I am a big fan, the main men arranged for me to be asking the questions!!

 

 

 

 

Hey Paul, how was your Christmas? You currently live in Las Vegas, don't you? Did you spend the holidays at home there or somewhere else and just what does a world renowned rock guitarist get in his studded leather Christmas stocking these days?

 

Happy New Year to you too! My Christmas was great, thank you. Yes, I live in Vegas. Because of scheduling reasons my wife and I spent Christmas here with friends while our families stayed back on the East Coast (where we both grew up).

 


Just before Christmas you were over in the UK playing some shows with Marya RoxxDSCF4390_2 including Hard Rock Hell. How did that go for you? Any funny stories?
 

Funny stories? Well, the whole tour felt like an ANVIL movie. One show does pop out though. Our first of the tour...We arrived at a club in Brighton just as our rental van's engine caught fire. Yep, I just said that...The manager of the club (very nice guy) had no idea who we were or what the hell we were doing there. There was supposed to be a full backline waiting for us as well. Of course no gear had arrived. We were all kinda looking at each other thinking we should just start drinking, but at the same time wondering how we were getting back to London in a burnt out van.

 

Anyway, this one guy pulled out an amp that was hiding under some books in the back office. The amp was the size of a shoe box (one 8" speaker and no gain knob).There wasn't a bass amp anywhere. On a good note, the club had a drumkit (if you want to call it that). We decided to try to make it work. Scott Metaxas (bassist) plugged directly into the PA and we started to soundcheck. The house soundman was VERY good. He managed to dial up a decent mix, thankfully. Anyway, the club opened and by the time we hit the stage it was full of some wonderful people. These kids were NUTS! They ruled!!! I think it was the best show of the tour...

 


I believe it was a phone call from producer Kevin Shirley asking you to play on her album that started your association with Marya. You must get a lot of offers from people wanting you to work with them or play on their records and you can't possibly have time to do everything so what was so special about Marya Roxx that made you say yes to The Caveman?

 


Actually, Kevin sent me a quick text message: "wanna play on a metal record?" I responded "sure". Not knowing anything else. He got back to me a few weeks later with details. Wait, I 1aroxxcrookusedidn't answer your question... What made me say yes? Come on Matt, do I really have to answer this? It's Kevin Shirley... If he calls you, you gotta step up to the plate and take a swing.

 

You've also been back in the studio with her again recently, yeah? Recording for a second album even before the first one is officially out??? If only Axl Rose had a work ethic like that! Who's been involved with that this time and how's it been going? I believe Über Röck favourite Anton Fig has been mentioned in relation to providing some drum tracks?

 

It's not for a "second album". Marya's management decided it best to add a few more songs to the yet to be released record. Recording? It was Kevin and Jared (engineer) at the helm. Yes, Anton Fig came in and crushed. It was VERY quick. We re-wrote and recorded 4 songs over a two day period. Maybe 13 hours of work total.

 

Of course we're talking about where you are in your career now but, going back BAZ-STANLEY-CROOKthough the mists of time, what was it that started you on the path to where you are today? What was it that first drew you towards the guitar? Was music something that played a big part in the young Crook's life or was it something that came your way later on?

 

KISS!!! KISS is everything to me. As a kid all I wanted to do was put on makeup and spit blood. Me sitting here, answering your questions is all the fault of Mr. Simmons. Respect...

 


And who were your main influences and favorite artists back then and what was the first band you ever went to see that gave you that 'I wanna be up there' feeling?

 

Again, it's KISS. First concert, KISS. As I started to progress in my guitar ability my brother Mark exposed me to everything else going on in the late 70's and early 80's. Some really great guitar playing at the time in music. Edward Van Halen and Brian May are my HEROES.

 


BriPaul690If you could, tell us a bit about your first band. How old were you? How did you decide on a name? Where was you first gig? And some of the feelings surrounding the first steps into live rock 'n' roll debauchery...
 


My first "real" band was TRITON. We were out of South Plainfield, New Jersey. I was 16. Lineup: My brother Mark Crook (bass), Gary Columbus (drums), Andy Weber (rhythm gtr) and Jack Sharnico (Vocals). We played METAL cover tunes (Priest, Maiden, Scorps) and a few originals.

 

Gary's parents ruled. We used to rehearse in his basement. They had to listen to us a few times a week!!! My parents ruled as well. They would let me go out on week nights to gig. I'd sneak in the back of the clubs while loading in our gear to avoid getting carded. The next morning was always difficult for me, waking early for school and all.

 

There wasn't any debauchery on my part. I was still a little young while gigging with TRITON. I can't say that about the rest of the band. They were older, out of school and doing the bar thing on a regular basis. I do remember, on several occasions, stepping out of the house in the morning (walking to school) as Andy and Gary were just driving up from their craziness the night before to drop-off my brother...

 

My brother and I are still VERY close with Gary and Andy. Actually, a lot of my gear in still in Gary's basement. He bought the house from his parents. Gary and Andy, to this day, jam together.

 


I think it's fair to say that the first time the world at large came to know about a guitar player named Paul Crook was when you replaced Dan Spitz in Anthrax. You were his guitar tech for a good few years before he left. How did you get the tech job in the first place and what were your feelings on seeing him leave?
 


For the record, I never officially "replaced" Dan. Meaning, I never signed any contracts withanthrax96 ANTHRAX. Regarding the tech thing: I was a tech for BLUE OYSTER CULT. I met Rick Downey at a gig. He used to drum for BOC but was now tour managing ANTHRAX. We kept in touch over the next couple of years. Anyway, he called me one day and asked if I'd be interested in touring with ANTHRAX as Dan's tech. Of course I said yes. This was 1989.

 

From there I ended up teching for Kerry King. Slayer is an amazing band to work for by the way. Talk about a well-oiled machine. WHOA....I also teched for Michael Schenker and Dave Mustaine.

 

Anyway, what I'm getting at is I stopped touring with ANTHRAX but all the while remained very close with them. Charlie in particular. I would drive up and hang with the guys on a regular basis while they were rehearsing/ writing new material. I loved them very much (still do). I remember pushing record buttons for them while they were working out ideas for what was to become STOMP 442. One day Dan didn't show up, again, which was happening a lot with him at that time. Charlie asked me to put down a guitar solo on a song. From there he asked me to do another one. A few months later Dan was out of the picture and ANTHRAX called me into the studio to record a bunch of solos. From there it turned into a few tours and another album: VOLUME 8, THE THREAT IS REAL.

 

My feelings on seeing Dan leave? Hmmmm, I guess you could say it was bitter-sweet. I felt badanthraxSTACK for him (and his family) but I was excited to record.

 


More importantly what were your feelings on being the one who was chosen to replace him? Did you have to audition or anything?
 

Again, I was excited to record.  ANTHRAX was/ is one of the most important bands in the METAL GENRE. There wasn't any talk of me stepping-in and touring at that time. Audition? Yes, that came later.

Then came a call from Scott asking if I wanted the gig...

 


I read somewhere once that you were never an official member of Anthrax though. Is that right? Looking back how do you feel you were treated through those years? Any complaints?

 

Complaints? Absolutely, but none worth mentioning. Just as, I'm sure the guys have complaints about me...I can't begin to tell you how important ANTHRAX is to my professional growth. All-in-all everything turned out perfect. The Universe is a wonderful thing. I love the guys and I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutual. I have lots of wonderful memories.

 


bpctjWhat was the reason for you and Anthrax parting ways and how did you end up being kept as Sebastian Bach's six string plaything in his basement on MTV Cribs ?


My split with ANTHRAX was basically all about money. I wanted more than they were willing to give. Fortunately, I was already working with Sebastian at the time I decided to stop touring with ANTHRAX. You see the Universe is wonderful. If I had signed a contract with ANTHRAX my professional relationship with Bas wouldn't have come as easy.

 

I love Bas. He lived about 20 minutes from me so we hung out a lot together even before I started working with him. He called me up one morning. It was just before 9am. I remember my first question too: "what the hell are you doing up at this hour?!" his response was "I have kids dude!".  Anyway, he then asked "wanna join my band?". I was at his house by noon that same day...

 

How long were you with Baz? It's a shame you didn't get to record much with him.
 

That's nice of you to say, thank you... I know, I am bummed about not having anything on record with Sebastian Bach. He's incredible, to say the least... How long was I with Bas? 1999-2004

 


What do you think of 'Angel Down'? It got a mixed reaction upon its release. Did you contribute towards any of the songs during your time with him that ended up on the album?

 

I think 'ANGEL DOWN' is a great record. I'm a big fan of METAL MIKE as well. He playscrookbach great on that thing. I had nothing to do with the record.

 

 

Along with MTV Cribs he's been on quite a few reality TV shows in his time since Skid Row, most successfully I guess on Gone Country. Also you've worked recently with Adam Lambert the 2009 winner of American Idol. What's your view of reality TV shows like those and have you ever been asked to appear on anything like that? If not what would your answer be if you were?

 

Bas gives great TV......Actually, Adam didn't win A.I. He came in 2nd. I really enjoy watching American Idol. I'm looking forward to its 2010 start in a few weeks. I enjoy watching the banter between the judges. Of course we can't forget about the talent. If it wasn't for A.I. we would NEVER be made aware of these amazing kids. I think Lambert is incredible and I absolutely love Carrie Underwood. In Britain, I really love Paul Potts. Asked to appear??? Hahaha!!! Actually, I have my own show. I can't say much at this time. But it's GUITAR based. We've already filmed the pilot episode and we're now waiting for the bidding war between a few networks to pan out.

 


Bach to Meat Loaf - How did that transition take place? It was Meat's bassist Kasim Sulton that asked you to jump aboard the Neverland Express wasn't it? How were those guys aware of you? And how did it feel to get an invitation like that ?
 

BACH to MEAT LOAF. Excellent question. The Universe steps in again...My work with SEBASTIAN BACH definitely conditioned me for the onslaught of MEAT LOAF.

 

You see, touring with BAS helped me to understand the goings-on with regard to working with an "artist". It's all about the "artist". The band means nothing in the grand scheme. Bas, if he wanted, could go out on stage and simply fart. He'd still sell the same number of tickets (whether I'm there or not). He is a true ROCK STAR. An amazing performer.

 

Respectfully saying... Bas is crazy but Meat is out of his F#&KING mind!!!! I don't think I could've handled Meat when I first joined without first having Bas in my life. MEAT is a LEGEND. An ICON. A rock GOD. He is incredibly important to Rock 'n Roll in general. Just take a look back at what he's accomplished and how many people he's touched. It's staggering...

 

With that type of fame and exposure comes the personality. It's unavoidable. We should all be very thankful for that type of character. It makes for great music and great concerts. Who scresized17wants to go to show and watch someone just stand there and not break a sweat? I know I don't. I want to see an artist pour himself out onto the stage. MEAT LOAF does this every night. It really is amazing to watch. He can hardly breath after each performance. MEAT LOAF understands the meaning/ importance of entertainment!!!

 

How was the MEAT LOAF camp made aware of me? That's all Pearl's (Meat's eldest daughter) fault. I met Pearl while we (Anthrax) were touring with Motley Crue. She was a backup singer. I think she was what they called a "CRUE SLUT". Her and Marty (other girl singer). We had a great time with Motley. Later on, after the tour Scott Ian and Pearl started dating. When the guitar position for MEAT became available Pearl simply mentioned my name.

 

Yes, it was Kasim Sulton that called me. Meat REALLY trusts Kasim. They've know each other since the 70's. Kas played on BAT OUT OF HELL. So it was only natural that Kas dialed the phone for him. I was very excited with the thought of playing for MEAT LOAF.

 

The audition was fun. I walked into the room VERY prepared. Kasim sent me an entire LIVE mix of a recent concert. He asked me to learn BAT, ANYTHING FOR LOVE and PARADISE. I decided to learn the entire concert. When I got there we started with BAT. It's a very complex piece of music. It took me 3 days to get parts sorted. Anyway, we moved to the other songs. Meat said "good job" and he mentioned to the rest of the band that he wanted to1acrookuse keep singing. I then opened my mouth and said I know the entire concert. Meat looked at me dumbfounded, then looked at John Miceli (drummer) and said "go". We played for about 90 minutes without stopping. When we finished Meat turned around and started clapping. I was on a plane to Koln, Germany a few days later...

 


No disrespect to the Thrax and Bachs of this world but that must have been one massive leap for you as a player, going from the smaller stages to some of the world's biggest? A Roller Coaster ride no doubt. Where was the first show you did with Meat? What were your nerves like and how long did it take you to feel a real part of the band?


Yes, it is a completely different world. The amenities show for it. We usually have our own plane to fly around Europe. A car service meets us in front of the hotel and drives us right to the steps of the aircraft. We land, get into the tour bus that's waiting and drive to the venue. My first show was in Koln, Germany. I was pooping bricks. I remember Meat calling me into his dressing room asking if I needed a shot of tequila. I took it...The band vibe was great, right off the bat (no pun intended).

 


I guess a large part of 2009 has also been spent in the studio with Meat recording the new album. I hear Justin Hawkins has been involved with the song writing and that Hugh Laurie has been in playing piano. How the hell did they get involved and how's it been working out?
 

We started the album in Calabasas, Ca on June 1st. My work completed on August 28th. Justin Hawkins has an invaluable contribution to the record, he is an amazing talent. Meat filmed an episode of HOUSE (Hugh's TV series) a while back. That's when he invited Hugh to play on the record. The album is complete. Meat spent New Year's Eve here in Vegas. While here, he played me the entire MASTERED version. This record is going to melt faces. It is beautifully powerful and full of love from everyone involved. Meat Loaf has given so much of himself for this baby. I'm actually surprised he's still breathing...

 


1acrookliveuseAnother person who's been rumoured to have had some input into the new Meat Loaf album is Brian May, true?
 

Brian May performs a ripping guitar solo on a song written by Justin Hawkins, arranged by Meat Loaf. Dr. May terrifies me. He recorded it with one of my guitars. It's a Brian May signature guitar that Bri gave me himself a few years back. He used a US dime instead of a standard UK sixpence. What I'm getting at is that Brian didn't have anything to make him feel at home and he still CRUSHED. He is a living legend and a true virtuoso...

 


So when do you think we will see it released and has there been any talk of new touring plans yet?
 


Sorry, but this question is for Meat, himself to answer. What I can say is that I've never seen Meat Loaf with this much passion about a release. He has all kinds of cool ideas in his head. He told me last week: "be ready to climb Mount Everest, there are big things coming up!"

 

 


Going back to Brian May, you had some guitar lessons from him a few years back didn't you? How was that for you? I mean, I guess you're always on a learning curve of sorts but how much extra did Brian bring to the table for you?

 

Yes, I studied with Dr. May and still do whenever our schedules line up. I'm always picking his brain. Even as I demo ideas at home. I'll send him my music to get an honest opinion on things. What did it bring to the table? I guess the question is "what does it bring..."

 

It's an ongoing thing for me. You see, Brian has the most beautiful vibrato and tone ever recorded. He's in an area only few can walk and by few I mean FEW: HENDRIX, BECK, CLAPTON...I'll never be able to walk with him and I'm more than okay with this. I'm constantly working on my vibrato. I play, or should I say, try to play the solo to Bo Rhap just about everyday. It'll never end. Clapton once said something like: The most frustrating thing for a guitarist is for him to find his own vibrato.

 

What's funny is that Bri had a MASSIVE influence on the new MEAT LOAF album without even being in the room. Rob Cavallo (Producer) would continually ask (even before meeting the Dr.): "how would Brian May approach this part".


 
That came about of course after you got the place of lead guitarist in the Las Vegas run of the We Will Rock You musical. Were you hand picked by Brian and Roger themselves?


Yes, I was hand selected by Brian and Roger. I had to audition in front of them.

 


And how was the experience of theatre work, playing the same place night after night, is it something you'd do again? Or do you prefer to be out on the road?


Playing in the WE WILL ROCK YOU musical was the best thing I could've ever done fornormal_smiling myself as a musician. You get the "live" feel because there are 1,400 people in the audience but you also have to keep your "studio" head on straight. This type of production, although being more Rock 'n Roll than anything else out there, is air tight. There isn't room for error. You have stage props and dancers moving in perfect time. They're not going to wait for you to catch up if you drop a beat.

 

Being that it's QUEEN music driving the machine you need to bring the ROCK and bring it always. The last thing I'm going to do is disrespect the legacy of Mr. Mercury and the Boys! Play HARD and EXACT or go home!!! F*&K!!! What do I prefer? I prefer playing in an arena while sweating my ass of on stage, of course. I would be miserable if I had to make a living playing in some crap musical on Broadway. But I'm more than sure I'd be happy to jump back into a WE WILL ROCK YOU show.

 

 

You made your home in Vegas during your run with the show there and stayed there when it left and you still show up on the stages around there now and again don't you? You guested with Brent Muscat's Sin City Sinners last year along with Joey Belladona for a run through of 'Indians' among others. How did that come about? Was that the first time you've shared a stage with Joey?
 

Las Vegas is a great place to live. Every band passes through here. I don't get up on stage much though, like some of my other friends. I prefer to sit back, relax and enjoy myself. It's hard to relax if you know you have to perform. Regarding the SIN CITY SINNERS. Yes, I've jammed a few times with them. You're talking about July 4th weekend. It was Joey Belladonna, Vinnie Paul, Evan Seinfeld and myself. I can't remember how it came about. I think Joey called me and asked if I'd play a few ANTHRAX tunes with him. I've played on-stage with Joey before. We did 'Indians' together (with John Bush) while I was touring with ANTHRAX back in 1998.

 


So you've jammed with Joey and you've played many a show with John Bush, but I guess you never shared a stage with Dan Nelson? 2 out of 3 ain't bad I suppose! What was your take on the short lived tenure of Nelson in the Anthrax camp and the two opposing stories surrounding his departure? Many fans seem to be getting tired of the constant swapping of vocalists. Don't you ever feel like getting Scott Ian in a headlock giving him a slap and saying "Just pick one!" 


Meatbristol4Hahahaha!!!! This is funny... Do I feel like putting Scott in a headlock? Hahahaha!!! Well, Scott doesn't deserve a headlock, he deserves my respect. Anyway, it's not all Scott's fault. There are five members in ANTHRAX. To be quite honest, you probably heard about Dan's departure before I did... Look, like I said before, I love the guys. But no, I don't have time to think or worry about what's going on in the world of ANTHRAX. I mean, I care if something is wrong on a health and friendship level of course, but that's about it. I guess, think of it like you'd think about a friend and his day-to-day office job. You really wouldn't spend part of your day wondering how your friend was getting along with a co-worker that you've never met. As a matter of fact, I spent part of my New Year's Eve with Scott Ian. Meat Loaf and myself ended up at Scott and Jerry Cantrell's club DEAD MAN'S HAND for a bit. Scott and I didn't speak one syllable about the music business. There you have it.

 

One last thing that I have to know before you go. Please! On the 2008 Casa de Carne tour you were ending the show with some covers by The Doors and The Beatles, fair play. But whose idea was it to start the gig with a cover of 'I Want You So Bad' by The Eagles Of Death Metal? I was at the opening show in Plymouth and seeing all the blank faces around me was just priceless. What was the thinking behind that one? I'd love to know.
 

You were at that show?! Aaaaaahhhh, the weather was miserable. I remember falling on my ass at that gig while running across the stage. Anyway, to answer your question: The setlist is ALWAYS put together by Meat himself......

 

Huge thanks to Paul for being such a cool guy and agreeing to the interview.

Check out www.youtube.com/paulcrooktube