For several years, Cinderella guitarist Jeff LaBar had always promised to make good on his quest to record a solo album.
After years of waiting, the time has finally arrived. LaBar’s new album, One for the Road, was recorded in Nashville with long-time friend and engineer Ronnie Honeycutt and features mixing by Cinderella bandmate Fred Coury, with mixing and mastering by Chris Collier (KXM, Lynch Mob, Lita Ford).
What’s unique about LaBar's first solo endeavor is that not only does it showcase LaBar’s guitar playing, but it also highlights his singing and songwriting prowess. Aside from drums by Tesla’s Troy Luccketta, all of the instruments and vocals on One for the Road are performed by LaBar, a true "solo” album.
The new album also captures the magic and spirit of a genre of music LaBar helped define. “No Strings” has a classic Cinderella feel, while songs like “Asking for a Beating” and ”Nightmare on My Street” take on a far heavier edge. Then there’s the acoustic-flavored “Hello or Goodbye,” which speaks to LaBar’s folk influences.
I recently caught up with LaBar and asked him about One for the Road, which was released today, August 26, plus guitars and more!
GUITAR WORLD: What was the inspiration behind One for the Road?
I had been threatening to do a solo album for quite a while. I've been a singer all of my life and actually started singing around the same time I started playing guitar, so I've always had it in me and always wanted to do it.
When Tom [Keifer] announced he was going to be putting out a solo album, which also meant Cinderella was going to be put on hold, my manager Larry [Morand], my wife Debi [Salazar] and everyone around me finally called me on it and said now is the time. So with the help of Troy Luccketta from Tesla and my engineer, Ronnie Honeycutt, I laid down a few tracks.
How would you describe One for the Road?
It's a little taste of all of my musical influences. When I started out, I was playing acoustic guitar and singing to folk music like the Eagles, Crosby Stills & Nash and Cat Stevens. Then I discovered bands like Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd. From there, I got more into Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. The five songs I'm singing on this record represent each of those heavier influences.
What were some of the differences you encountered working on this album as opposed to a Cinderella record?
I think one of the biggest challenges was that I didn't have those three other guys in there with me. Over the years, we've all leaned on each other in the studio to help each other out. With Cinderella, it was always four minds and a producer. For this project, it was just me and Ronnie.
Let’s discuss a few tracks off of the new album. “Hello Or Goodbye” isn't the kind of song we've come to expect from you.
Yeah, that song is a little bit more in the vein of Fleetwood Mac. It could even be a country-style song.
What about "Nightmare on My Street"?
That one started out in my basement studio. I was in a heavy metal kind of mood and set up a beat on a drum machine and did some jamming. That’s actually how I come up with most of my riffs.
Is there any place else where you find inspiration?
Some of the music for the album I originally wrote at a Cinderella sound check, after Fred [Coury] got his drums together and started playing a beat. That was actually where I came up with the riff for "Asking for a Beating."
What was your setup like for recording the album?
I still have my white, now nicely yellowed, 1980 Custom Shop Les Paul. That's my main guitar and the one I used for all of the heavy stuff you hear on the album. I also have an old Strat I used for the clean stuff and a Telecaster for “Hello or Goodbye." For the acoustic songs, I used an Alvarez 12-string and an Epiphone six-string.
There seems to be a lot of chemistry in the “band” that was put together for the video for “No Strings." Do you have plans to tour?
I’d like to, and we’re working on it. The chemistry you mention comes from the fact that it's actually my son Sebastian on guitar. He plays for a band called Mach 22. The video also features my good friends Jasmine Cain on bass and Matt Arnn on drums. My wife Debi also makes an appearance.
What satisfies you the most about completing your first solo album?
Because I had been threatening to do it for so many years, the fact that I did it was a big accomplishment. It finally took my friends and loved ones to really encourage me to do it. I hope it makes and impact and that people enjoy it.
What would you say has been the highlight of your career overall?
The most memorable things are all of the “firsts." Like the first time I walked into an arena when we were opening for David Lee Roth's first solo tour and saying, "Oh my God! I'm playing here!" Or the first time I got a gold record, which was on that same tour. Then there’s the first time we toured Japan or the first time we headlined on the Long Cold Winter Tour with our own lighting and backline. Things like that are my favorite memories.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.