“The music touring industry was decimated by this thing, and it’s going to be a long time before it recovers completely. But I knew all along once the first tour announcements started to come out, the floodgates would open, and they have,” he says.
“To have taken 15 months off is kind of weird, so it’s wonderful to kick right back into it,” says Warrant singer Robert Mason. “Once you deep clean and scrub every inch of your house and garage, you’re looking for things to do! There’s stuff I didn’t even know I had in there!” Thankfully, Mason’s hobbies of driving and maintaining classic cars, riding motorcycles, and target shooting have kept him active outdoors.
Trunk adds that while his home of New Jersey and the New York area have been “fairly locked down” through the pandemic, states like Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida have been much more open. “Doing a daily national radio show, I hear from all over. But it’s great to see things opening,” he says. “I’m fully vaccinated, and I believe in the vaccines.”
Headliners Warrant had a bevy of radio hits and videos that were MTV staples from the late ‘80s to early ‘90s including “Down Boys,” “Sometimes She Cries,” “Big Talk, “Blind Faith,” and “I Saw Red.” They also stretched out with the bayou crime noir of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and chalked up one of the biggest Power Ballads of the era (and highest charting single) in “Heaven.” But their best known song and biggest charting single is the sex-drenched, double-entendre-filled “Cherry Pie.” It’s over-the-top video remains (for better or worse) burned in people’s minds.
The band has maintained most of the classic lineup: Joey Allen (lead guitar), Erik Turner (rhythm guitar), Jerry Dixon (bass), and Steven Sweet (drums). Troubled lead vocalist Jani Lane passed away in 2011 from alcohol poisoning, and Mason has been frontman since 2008 on stage and in the studio for new records.
As with all pop culture, everything comes around again, and nostalgia for the ‘80s and ‘90s is in full swing. Mason is now seeing two generations in the audience and at meet and greets. Both of veteran and new ears responding to the hard rock/hair metal where with few exceptions, it’s all about partying, hooking up, and having a nothin’ but a good time.
“It’s music that is built around optimism, having a good time, and forgetting your problems. That’s the ethos of the entire thing. And people want that again,” Mason says. “You can instantly transport yourself back to when you were younger and all those memories. I’m blessed with the opportunity to hear people’s stories about that. And it’s a huge rush to be on my side of the microphone doing live music again.”
In fact, Trunk was there emceeing at a Rocklahoma Festival when Lane was “struggling,” and witnessed Joey Allen first talking to Mason about possibly helping out the group if Lane wasn’t capable of performing.
Part of Lane’s issues, he himself admitted in an interview shortly before he died, was that he didn’t want to be known as just “The ‘Cherry Pie Guy.” And that video wouldn’t go away.
“He carried that as a bit of cross. But that video sums up so much that period of time and that type of music in so many ways, it did become bigger,” Trunk offers. “But if you know their catalog, there’s way more to them.”
The current tour is in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the release of the Cherry Pie record, the band’s second. Though it’s actually the 31st anniversary, as the pandemic has caused a lot of tours pegged to a band’s founding or certain records to be a little creative with math.
“We only did like three shows last year for the actual 30th, so we took a mulligan on that!” Mason laughs. “That record has so many great songs on it, and we’re playing the entire record. It’s a stamp in time for people. Warrant were in the shadow of Poison and Ratt and Mötley Crüe, but they had really great songs, and still all that ‘80s Sunset Strip imagery.
Eddie Trunk also has thoughts about the other two acts on the bill. “I often refer to Lita Ford as the First Lady of Rock and I mean that. I think she’s underrated and deserves more. She’s such a pioneer of women in rock music whether with the Runaways or solo career,” he say. “She still sings and plays really really well and deserves a lot of respect.”
And the BulletBoys? “They came out and had a couple of semi-hits, but they never quite got fully over the hump. The big change with them is that a couple of years ago they reunited the original lineup of all members. And that’s almost unheard of for ‘80s based acts,” Trunk says. “They’re probably to me the most straight up hard rock band on the bill, more modeled after ‘70s riff-based bands. They play great and lead singer Marq Torien still has an incredible voice.”
Finally, Mason is well aware that the frontman of a band is likely the most difficult to replace for good. So he’s cognizant of the dual responsibility to recognize Lane’s songs and history with Warrant, but still put his own mark on territory that’s his and his alone.
“Jani was an amazing writer, and a really good frontman. People loved what he did, and I get to sing those songs now. I was a fan,” Mason sums up. “My influence is more blues and soul, and you can detect that in my voice. But we see people connecting to those songs, every night. Not to paraphrase Popeye, but I’m going to be who I am. Wow, I must have had a lot of coffee to come up with that!”
Warrant plays at 6:30 pm on June 25 at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel. Lita Ford and BulletBoys open. For information, call 713-225-5483 or visit WarehouseLive.com. $22.50 & $75.
For more on Warrant, visit WarrantRocks.com