Veteran Band Debuts Tunes at Ultimate Jam Night at Whisky A Go-Go
By DONNA BALANCIA
For Little Caesar, Honesty is the best policy.
The new album, Brutally Honest, is a double live CD recorded while on the road in Holland in DIY style.
“It’s real, it sounds good and we’re proud of it,” said Ron Young, frontman for the band, which departs next week for a European tour.
Brutally Honest is the latest album from the legendary Little Caesar and like the band, it’s smooth with some rough edges.
“We didn’t want to put out a fake live kind of record, we’d rather stand there with blemishes, and fortunately there aren’t too many on this record,” said Ron, whose band was a headliner at Ultimate Jam Night at the Whisky A Go-Go last night.
The group was tasked with following Dee Snider of Twisted Sister who made a surprise appearance. But like usual, they handled it in bold style and captivated the packed house.
“We enjoy what we do,” Ron said. “We don’t get thrown by a lot.”
Little Caesar has a lot going on. They have a new band member, Alex Kane, a regular at Chuck Wright’s weekly Ultimate Jam Night. Alex rounds out the group, which is comprised of guitarist and co-founder Loren Molinare, bass player Pharoah Barrett and drummer Tom Morris.
The band is ready to hit the road in Europe, where they recorded Brutally Honest, a live, no-frills recording that is charming in its raw presentation. Standout tunes on the new record are “Rum and Coke,” “Chain of Fools,” “In Your Arms,” and “Dirty Water.” The record is distributed through Unison Music.
“We have some talented people in the group – more than just musically talented,” Ron said. “Our bass player Pharoah is a talented sound engineer, he’s won some Emmy Awards for his work. When we go on the road, I bring my own mics, that I build myself. Well, we did this one show in Holland, and this engineer there was as weirdo techie as I am, he had a hard drive he ran everything from. So we recorded in Holland, with just a hard drive that all 16 channels ran through. It’s amazing. You used to need a mobile recording truck now you just a need a laptop and a few grand worth of equipment.”
Ron’s views are worldly and at the ripe ol’ age of 50-something, he says he’s fortunate he can still play music and give back to the fans. The new album is an example of that.
“The music scene in the U.S. is different than in Europe. In Europe, they embrace music, they don’t do the downloads, they have CDs, music is more integrated in the culture, it’s unfortunate that we’ve lost that. Europe traditionally has held on to music, blues-based music and reveled in it native forms of American music are more revered in Europe than here.
“The music represents social and cultural interactions more over there than here,” Ron said. ” These are friends from towns they go to pubs and shows and this is the reason to stay in each other lives and music is the central hubs.
This “techie nerd” didn’t have plans to be a rock n roll frontman, in fact he had a tendency towards mechanics and science.
“I grew up in Queens went to college on Long Island, at Stonybrook, I was a biology major pre-med and found out there were girls and bars in close proximity,” he said. “That’s when I said, ‘I’ll grow up in a decade.'”
Ron came up in the time of the great rock n roll-punk and new wave time of 1979 to 1982.
“Max’s was just closing down, and CBGB was still going, The Ritz, Danceteria, then the hip hop exploded there. After getting held up at gun point I left New York. I knew that there’s still a music scene in LA and came here and just went for it. I started working the door at Club Lingerie, started meeting good musicians, and by late 1987 put Little Caesar together.
He’d been in a band with Tom the drummer called Smilin’ Jacks, and they met Loren through an ad in Music Connection.
“We did it as an anti-glam anti-hair metal project.”
The frontman is still very much about the music and not about what he calls the “Look At Me” factor that permeated the metal movement of the 1980s.
“I’m still kind of anti-pomposity and anti-grandiosity music that was trying to impress rather than move people,” he says.
Little Caesar has a new addition with guitarist Kane, who has been a working musician in Hollywood. Alex has played with Richie Ramone’s band and is a fixture at the popular Ultimate Jam Night at the Whisky A Go Go. Ultimate Jam at the Whisky A Go Go is the kind of positive music event that brings the community together.
“They put a good live diverse palette together with Ultimate Jam Night,” Ron said. “I wish some other clubs in LA would do this. They need to be more selective and I think after 20 years of the pay-to-play we’re loaded up with bands. That doesn’t help build a scene or clientele. When you have really quality music even if it’s diverse, people they appreciate the whole palette.”
Alex joined Little Caesar through a connection with Loren, who works for Blackstar Amplification. Alex has a sponsorship with the company.
“Alex played in so many bands that we know, he’s so professional and has a good work ethic, he comes from the same vein of appreciating the same music,” Ron said. “He blended right in.”
So what advice does the veteran Little Caesar rocker give the up-and-coming musicians?
“It used to be the musician had this dream of getting to make music for a living so they could do what he or she could get offered a professional distribution deal, but that model is gone,” Ron said. “What that means is each musician has to be good with Instagram, Photoshop and video and interaction. The whole “creating a whole persona” is over. They want to know what you’re wearing, what you’re eating, and really, you could become overexposed, so it’s a double edged sword.”
As for the future?
“I know we have a great tour ahead, we’ve got some great people to see in Europe and lots of music to make.”