Updated: 07/20/02

Inspired at age seven by a Kiss poster, little Richie Kotzen took up with a guitar and the rest is history. From Poison, Mr. Big, a solo career and beyond, Kotzen has gained respect for his guitar work all over the world. Here is an e-mail interview Highwire Daze conducted regarding his new Lion Music release entitled Slow.

Highwire Daze: First off, tell me how your new album Slow compares to your previous solo albums.

Richie Kotzen: This is the first solo CD I have released in over two years. I was able to spend a lot of time on the CD. In the past, I have made records that have varied in style, however I think on the CD Slow I have finally settled into a direction that I feel represents who I am as a solo artist,

HD: How long have you been playing guitar and who were some of your earlier influences?

RK: I have been playing guitar for over 20 years. I started taking lessons when I was seven -- some of my early influences are George Benson, Eddie Van Halen, Hendrix, Sly and The Family Stone, The Dixie Dregs, Stevie Ray Vaughn...

HD: When you look back on your work with Poison, what do you think about it now? Do you ever speak with any of the members these days?

RK: I am very proud of my work with the band Poison. I think we made a really cool sounding record. It was my first time recording a CD with a real recording budget. I have a lot of great memories of that record. I ran into them about a year and a half ago at a radio convention. I had a nice conversation with Bobby -- I wish them the best.

HD: Are you still working with Mr. Big and Vertu, and if so, how do you find time to work on all these projects?

RK: Vertu was a one-album project. We did a tour of Europe -- played a bunch of festivals in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, UK, France, Israel -- it was awesome -- I love playing that sort of music with musicians who helped invent it. Mr. Big is no more, however I made two studio CD's and a live CD with them. They are great players and I am sorry to see the band end. I am happy to have been a part of it.

HD: Are you surprised by the successes you are having in Japan? Why do you think the American market has been so difficult to crack in comparison?

RK: I have been going to Japan and playing my music for the last eight years so the audience I have there has been developed over time. I also have been getting consistent promotion from my record company. They know who my audience is and they understand how to get me out there to them. As for America, I never had any real promotion or support from a record company here so it makes it difficult. I also have not been very aggressive at all with regard to making something happen here. To make it in America on a grand scale you really need to fit into a box and since I change directions so much from record to record, I don't think the American labels know how to sell me or what to promote me as...

HD: How has your current tour in Japan been going?

RK: My Japan tour has ended. We played Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo. My band and I had a great time. I am working on plans for a tour of Europe since my CD has been released there a few months ago.

HD: Are you currently residing in Los Angeles, and what do you think of the music scene there?

RK: I have lived in LA for about ten years. I enjoy LA and the music scene. A lot of musicians come here from all over the world to make it in the music business so there is a lot of different things happening from Latin, to Rock, to Jazz.

HD: What made you decide to sell one of your guitars on E-bay?

RK: I have no place to live and I need quick cash for heroin. Actually I have too many guitars and I really need to get rid of some because they are taking up tooo much space.

HD: What made you decide to release your new CD on Lion Music and are you still connected with Shrapnel Records?

RK: Lion liked the CD and wanted to promote it. I am friends with Shrapnel pres Mike Varney, so yes I do still have contact.

HD: Who are a few current guitarists that you are impressed with?

RK: I really am not aware of many new guitar players but I really like Tom Morello from Rage.

HD: Where did the European bonus track All I Can come from? What made you decide to use that one as a bonus track?

RK: All I Can is a song that was recorded after my CD was mastered for Japan. It seemed like a good choice for me to use it as a bonus track for the European release.

HD: Did you perform all the instruments on Slow? There aren't any other musician credits. If so, was that a challenge or somewhat of a nightmare? If you did use other musicians, who were they and what made you decide to use them?

RK: I played everything on the CD. I actually recorded and mixed it too. I guess I am a bit of a nut. I didn't plan it that way but since I took so long to record, it just went down like that. I tend to work at odd hours plus I like to record when I feel like it, so often times it is much easier for me to just go ahead and do it rather than wait for people and all that.

HD: When can we see you play a show out here in the Los Angeles area?

RK: Now that I am home from my Japan tour I am planning on playing around. The band is down with it and they know the music, so it seems like this should happen.

HD: Britney Spears invites you to be her guitarist on her next world tour. Would you do it?

RK: Can I share a room with her???

HD: What's up next? Any future recordings?

RK: I have been getting into some production work. I plan on finding new bands and developing them. I just bought a building in North Hollywood that I am putting a recording studio into. It should be ready by the end of the year.

HD: Do you have any messages for those who have been following your career for awhile?

RK: Thank you. I am very grateful that I have an audience that is interested in what I do. It really means a lot to me.


RICHIE KOTZEN: His Official Home Page!
LION MUSIC: The Record Label for Richie Kotzen
THE HIGHWIRE DAZE HOME PAGE: Return to the Main Page!