April , 1992
By Cheryl Harris
Second Coming of the Shotgun Messiah
The title is relevant, you know.
Second Coming, their latest release on Relativity Records, is just what the name implies.
By utilizing material composed a few years back, augmented by some great recent work (undoubtedly inspired by the culture shock of life in the States!) it's evident SHOTGUN MESSIAH are now settling into their groove.
The band is made up of guitarist Harry Cody, vocalist Tim Skold, Stixx on drums, and the newest addition, New Yorker Bobby Lycon on bass.
Hard, heavy and without any added frills, SHOTGUN MESSIAH — brought to the U.S. from their native Sweden in 1988 — have turned out an album which defies comparison, due to a variety of ingredients.
For instance, their new vocalist, Tim Skold, used to be the band's bassist But it soon became apparent that Skold, vocally, possessed the low, direct, raspy sound that they wanted to project — opening up a wlIble new avenue for the band — such as the ability to perform ballads. "Ride The Storm," written by Skold and Cody, and featured on Second Coming, was written in 1985, but at that time they didn't have a singer who could carry it off. This album shows both an exit from their debut, as well as a progression into a whole new realm of sound.
Co-production credits on this project are again shared by Tim Skold and ace guitarist Harry Cody, with additional help provided by (Kiss producer) Pat Regan.
Cody recently spent some time with JAM Magazine, explaining a bit about their Second Coming. Throughout the conversation I kept hearing the word "attitude" crop up.
Just what is SHOTGUN MESSIAH's attitude?
"Basically," Cody grinned, "we're a bunch of pissed-off brats! We've been fighting an uphill battle since day one coming from a small town on the other side of the planet — so obviously we've had our fair share of struggle. But we're good at uphill battles, and it shows in our music. Even when we're playing ballads, there's a bite there, so we'll never be confused with the Foreigner or Loverboy type bands."
How did they go about picking their previous bassist Tim Skold as the new vocalist?
Cody groaned, "after a long, painful process of listening to demos of singers, we realized that there was no one there that we dared take a chance on. It would have to gel on a personal level as well as the singer's attitude. And it's not really fair to make a judgement when you've heard two minutes of a tape and seen a picture of a guy, but that's the way you've gotta do it."
"We were in the process of recording a demo for the song "Trouble," Cody continued, "and this guy was supposed to come down and sing, but he never showed up, so Tim said 'Let me try.' It sounded great, and hey, all the better. Since he and I are the main songwriters, we don't have to pass our ideas through a third guy, so they come out true to the original."
"The reason there were no ballads on the first album," Cody explained, speaking in a voice lightly peppered with his native Swedish accent, "was because that would sort of dilute the rock & roll attitude. But this time we came back with a vengeance, and put thirteen songs out — so we could put a couple of ballads out there without having less of the ass-kicking! I used to be a Thin Lizzy fan, and when you listened to their albums they'd have a couple of really heavy songs, a couple of straight-forward rockers, along with a couple of ballads, and I like that overall picture. We wanted to try a little bit of everything!"
Anyone connected with the rock genre will remember Cody's volatile guitar work on "Explorer," the lone instrumental off Shotgun Messiah's debut. Previously, they did not perform the song live because Cody didn't want to be in the spotlight for even one song. Instead, he felt, it would be best to project a group effort while on stage.
Will they be performing the song this time out?
"We've re-learned the song," Cody replied. "I've been teaching Bobby some of the rather complex bass licks in it, and we'll definitely have it, in case we feel like doing it at some point!"
Second Coming was recorded in the heart of Hollywood — referred to by many as Scum City, USA — and SHOTGUN MESSIAH were aware of, and fought against, having to adapt to the Hollywood line of bullsh*t.
"There are many sides to it," Cody defined of the 'line' in question. "On the street level, there are a lot of musicians here who are not interested in being musicians. They're interested in being stars, in getting laid, they can't necessarily play. I never subscribed to that at all. I was twelve when I started playing guitar — and impressing others was never one of my main concerns — it's sometimes a bonus, sometimes a pain in the ass, depending on the situation."
"When you get higher up, it's the schmoozing I hate. Our previous manager wanted us to have a cover song on the album, just for the sake of getting on the radio. We weren't interested in that either. He suggested a bunch of really lame songs, so while he was in a meeting one day, we just slammed down a cover of the New York Dolls song "Babylon," because we thought 'if we're going to do a cover we're gonna have a song that we like.' Our manager was pretty pissed when he heard the song, he said we were defeating the purpose!"
SHOTGUN MESSIAH obviously know what purpose they want to achieve. Their first single, "Heartbreak Blvd.," is getting mega attention on the radio, and the video to support it is currently being slotted on MTV.
Obviously, this ain't a bunch of pretty boys, so what can we expect of their live show?
"A lot of jumping around and sweating and grimacing," Cody stated emphatically. "Nothing flashy on stage, it's pretty stripped down. And the music will be like a freight train.
SHOTGUN MESSIAH, along with acclaimed guitarist Vinnie Moore, will be performing on April 17 at Dallas City Limits.