Chain Lightning's interview
by John Molet - January 2002

Thanks a lot for this interview which let the french fans a bit more about Chain Lightning. First of all, can you talk about your band, its style and influences, the way you work,etc....

How was Chain Lightning born?
Chuck was a bouncer at a bar and a band Greg was playing in played there. Chuck asked if he could sing a song or two and we found out he could sing very well. Greg was planning a trip to Dallas, TX and asked if Chuck could go with. That wasn't possible so he told Chuck they would talk when he returned. After playing around Dallas for a while Greg moved back to Minnesota and asked if Chuck was still interested in forming a band. They've been rockin' ever since.

Can you introduce the band members?
Out of the 6 band members we still have four of the original from the forming of Chain Lightning. Drummer, Billy Morgan (original member) is from Tampa Bay, FL. Bill had worked around the same circuit that Greg had back in the 1980's so when Greg was looking for a drummer he found out that Billy was available. He's been rocking with the band ever since. We call him "missin Billy Morgan" because he's not sure what he'd missin. Guitar player, Donny LeStarr (original member) comes from the hills of Pennsylvania. Donny is a hillbilly if I ever seen one. He grew up on a horse farm and his father was also a guitar player. Donny first played the bass guitar for the band until 1997 when he took up the guitar. It's a real good night if we can just keep Donny upright. Vocalist, Chuck Worden (original member) is from White Bear Lake, MN. He loved to sing and started writing lyrics in the 1970's. Chuck is the founding member of Chain Lightning. He keeps us all in line and he ain't afraid to throw down even if we get out of line. Also from White Bear Lake, MN is Jay Jacques (formerly of Austin Healy) who grew up in the sticks around farms and has played guitars since Jr. High School. Jay's got a great sense of how the music should travel as well as being a perfectionist at learning cover tunes. He also loves to write tunes in the tour bus as we travel along. Bass guitarist, Rick Gates, is the second newest member of the band. He is from Newfoundland and has lived and played all over the world. Rick's mother was a bass player with a band that recorded an album at the famous "Whiskey A Go Go". Rick grew up around music and is a great addition to the band. Rick continues to live on a farm which allows us to get food for the freezer. Keyboard player, John Mika, is the latest addition to the band. John is from Minneapolis, MN and played around the circuit for years. John formerly owned a music store until we came along but we keep him too busy for that now. John is kind of the quiet guy of the band and like they say, "beware of the quiet guys". Guitarist and vocalist, Gregory Lee Philipp was born on the east side of St. Paul, MN. His dad played guitar, his mom sang and his sister played the drums. His first gig was at the age of seven when he blew up his amp! Greg is also a founding member of Chain Lightning as well as the Manager and major song writer for their albums.

Do you all have the same musical influences, tastes and desires?
Most of the members have been farmers as well as hell raisers. We all own Harley's, hunt, fish, and drive hot rods. On any given evening you will find us sitting around the campfire writing songs, eating the latest catch, and living life.

Did you name the band after 38 Special's song?
Yes, the band is named after the 38 Special song. We hope they don't mind. We're just trying to keep it alive.

Can you tell us about your first album which was released back in 2000 ? How did you record it ?
The first album was largely written about the life on the road as a band. All songs are actually true. "Crazy Legs" was about a girlfriend of Greg's. "Hot Night" was written about a cold night in Duluth, MN. It was 35 degrees below 0. "Ribbons in Her Hair" is about Chuck's girlfriend who died in the bar the night we were playing there. We recorded the album at Logic Studios with Brian Bart (a.k.a. Kelly Keagy's guitar player) over a one month period from ideas that we had. Many of Chain Lightning's songs are written live, on stage. Greg will come up with a guitar riff and everyone follows or at least they try to and if they don't who can tell us any different anyway. It's our song and we can do with it what we want. We do try to capture live moments when we play live. I think any band that plays without jammin is sterile and plays without feel. Sometimes you must come up with the moment of how you are feeling at the time. The same goes for the studio. I feel a lot of that has been lost in the music industry and most musicians are just cardboard cutouts.

You have three guitar players fronting the band, as Skynyrd does. Isn't it too difficult to find the good combination between the guitars, distribute solos, the rhythmn parts and so on ?
It's not difficult to combine the guitars because we all play different. Donny plays a lot of country style jazzy riffs, Jay is more a crunchy Les Paul rocker, and Greg lies somewhere in the middle and we get along as a team with the same common goal to make the guitars rip. The rhythms and lead fall into place with each of our styles.

Did you already share the stage with Austin Healy, an other band from Minnesota ?
We have beers with Austin Healy and party with them. The boys party at Greg's house and have a hoedown. In fact, one year before Chain Lightning hit the road for Sturgis, SD for the big motorcylce rally, the two bands jammed all night at Greg's. Austin Healy sent us on our tour with a party.

Do you both bands (Austin Healy and Chain Lightning) have the same musical philosophy ?
We definitely share the same musical philosophy: in your face, kick ass, southern rock.

What are you actual projects ? Are you working on a new cd ?
We are currently working on the second CD called "A Song Left in the Wind". All of the material was written on the road in hotel rooms, the bus, and waysides along the way. We are working the bugs out now. We love writing songs on the road, about the road. We have over 100 original songs just waiting to be rocked and recorded. Most of our music is based around southern rock, however, it is hard for us to call it that since to us it is just our music, our life, and our freedom to express who we really are.

Which one is/are your best concerts ?
Our best concerts are big bike shows like Sturgis, South Dakota, Moondance Jam in Walker, MN and the bike show in Conesville, IA for Possum, EZ, Trump, and the Boys with the Circle of Pride Motorcycle Club plus all the other Hog Rallys we do in the summer. June 28th we have a gig for The Harley Owners Group of MN at Harriet Island located downtown St. Paul, MN which will be a huge turnout. We also do 4 gigs a year for Bikers For Make A Wish which donate money for children with terminal illness. Last year alone thebe a huge turnout. We also do 4 gigs a year for Bikers For Make A Wish which donate money for children with terminal illness. Last year alone they raised over $80,000 for the cause. We also did a gig for Willie G and Bill Davidson, owners of Harley Davidson for the diabetes cause. We also do many gigs for A.B.A.T.E. (Bikers Education) and Mark Koon and the St. Croix Valley Riders Annual Chili Feed. We are always into doing a benefit for a good cause.

Which great southern rock band (Lynyrd Skynrd, Allman Brothers, 38 Special, Molly Hatchet...) is your main influence ?
All of the above. And, of course, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Roy Clark.

To you, which are the greatest southern rock albums ?
Skynyrd's "One More From the Road", "Pronounced", "Street Survivors". Hell, all of Skynyrd's. Blackfoot's "Strikes", Allman Bros. "Eat A Peach", All Molly Hatchet albums. Also, 38 Special and all the Van Zant Boys. Also, Ted Nugent and Roy Clark's "Stringin Along with the Blues" and "The Lightning Fingers of Roy Clark" and all the ZZ Top albums. We love anything that comes from the great country of Texas.

What "southern rock" means to you ?
Southern Rock means being true to your heart and soul. Playin the music that is in you. Staying true to yourself and playing with the uniform you were issued. Many people conform to the fads and lose themselves in the process. That's not what southern rock is all about. As I say, we hunt, fish, ride Harleys, drink beer, and play kick ass down home music. And all our moms cooked the food that God put on this good earth.

What do you think about new bands playing southern rock ? Do you see some ones emerging and becoming great bands ?
Well, hell I hope we're one of them. If it's what's in there heart, you'll hear it in the music. I think some of the new bands are great. I give any one credit for staying true to themselves.

Except music, whar are you interests or hobbies ?
One of them is crawling from the wreckage. We all enjoy motorcycles, fast cars, hunting, fishing, and a good overnight camping trip. Many times the band either shows up to the gig across country on their Harley's or driving a hot rod. That gives us something to do when we're in town. We'd love nothing more than to float our Harley's across the big pond and do a gig in your neck of the woods.

Traditional question, if you had to spend the rest of your life on a desert island, which albums would you take with you ?
Tommy Bolin's "Teaser"
In conclusion, rock on my friends - live simply, simply live. Life and music are gifts. Share them with friends. We never were trying to get rich, we're just trying to rock. We're getting out what we've got in us. We hope to see y'all in the near future.


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