Phil Lewis says that Steve Riley "will make a fool of himself" when he assembles his own version of L.A. GUNS to play an East Coast festival this spring.
When the M3 Rock Festival — one of the largest annual '80s rock-themed events in America, if not the world — announced its 2019 lineup, L.A. GUNS was on the list of scheduled performers. It soon became clear, though, that the band who takes the stage that day won't include Lewis or guitarist Tracii Guns, as the show will mark the first — and, as of now, the only — appearance of a group anchored by Riley, who still owns half of the L.A. GUNS name, and bassist Kelly Nickels, who played on the band's first four albums.
Asked by Myglobalmind how he feels about the drummer going out and playing gigs as L.A. GUNS, Lewis said: "It's ridiculous. We were asked to do M3, and we couldn't do it, we were playing somewhere that would have made it impossible for us to get to M3, so we declined. Strangely, they offered us more money. It wasn't about the money — it was about logistically getting there. They got fucking bent out of shape about it. Knowing that Riley has legal ownership of the name, they wound him up. He hasn't played since I started the reunion with Tracii. They persuaded him to do the show. It's a terrible thing as he doesn't have a band. He agreed to do it before he had a band. That date is getting close, and I'm curious to see what happens."
He continued: "I don't think too bad of Riley. We were in the trenches together doing a thousand shows and traveling millions of miles on the road. It's a tremendous mistake, and we will never play M3 again. He will make a fool of himself. He is going to go out as a laughingstock, whether he does it or not. I think it is bullshit that the M3 people got so pissy about it and created this situation. It totally created by those people."
Lewis went on to say that Riley's M3 appearance is " totally exploiting" the hard work that he and Tracii have laid down with the reunion.
"I don't think that Riley is aware of what we have done or how far we have come since [2017's] 'The Missing Peace' [album]," Lewis said. "He doesn't give a fuck. I don't think he knows what he is really up against, which is even more pathetic."
Riley is the longest-tenured member of L.A. GUNS, a group he joined shortly before the release of their 1988 self-titled debut. (While he is pictured on the album, he did not actually perform on it.) Although the band has famously featured more than 50 members in its ranks through the years, with the exception of a two-year period in the early 1990s, Riley was the sole constant from 1987 until the end of 2016, when the group that he and Lewis managed to keep alive for nearly 15 years without founding guitarist Guns (who quit the band in 2002, on the eve of the release of their acclaimed album "Waking The Dead") dissolved. Since then, Lewis and Guns — who, after years of acrimony, buried the hatchet in 2016 — have forged ahead as L.A. GUNS while Riley focused on other projects.
The Lewis-Guns version of L.A. GUNS will release a new album, "The Devil You Know", on March 29 via Frontiers Music Srl.