Interview: Robert Mason discusses Warrant’s infectious new album, ‘Louder Harder Faster’
Photo by: Stephen Jensen and used with permission
Six years after the release of their last album, Rockaholic–the first to feature new frontman, Robert Mason (Lynch Mob, Cry of Love, Ozzy), Warrant returns with perhaps their most rocking, in your face album yet, Louder Harder Faster.
Produced by Jeff Pilson (Foreigner, ex-Dokken) the new album is full of the familiar rockers and signature ballads the hard rock giants are known for along with a few surprises. From the infectiousness of the title-track and songs like “Devil Dancer” and “Perfect” to the story-telling vibe of tracks like “Only Broken Heart,” Louder Harder Faster perfectly complements the Warrant’s back catalog and signature hits like “Down Boys,” “Cherry Pie” and “I Saw Red.”
In an ironic twist, the CD version of Louder Harder Faster also includes Warrant’s spirited take on Merle Haggard’s #1 country hit, “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” which has become the theme for the Professional Bull Riders.
Warrant consists of Erik Turner and Joey Allen on guitar, Jerry Dixon on bass, Steven Sweet on drums and Robert Mason as he lead vocalist.
AXS recently spoke to Robert Mason about Louder Harder Faster and more in and exclusive interview. Check out the conversation below.
AXS: How would you describe the new album as it relates to some of Warrant’s previous work?
Robert Mason: Is it a cop out to say its louder, harder, faster? [laughs]. Honestly, we made the record we wanted to make and weren’t afraid to be a little diverse and throw in a curve ball or two. We didn’t want to just make it linear and something where everyone expects a certain thing. We had a lot of fun in the songwriting process. I love being in that environment as much as I love performing live. Being able to create something out of nothing is so rewarding.
AXS: Where do you draw inspiration for songs?
RM: It can be from anything. Because I play guitar and some piano it doesn’t always start with the words. Sometimes I’ll just be sitting on airplanes typing lyrics or phrases into my phone that sound cool and then later, I’ll go back and see if any them inspires a melody. Other times, it will be where I start with nothing but an instrument and a cup of coffee and just play a cool progression or riff. When I find something I like, I’ll instantly have a cool melody. Having the creative spark is what sets you off, no matter how it starts.
AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album. What can you tell me about the title track?
RM: Louder Harder Faster was something that I said during a Warrant show after playing a ballad like “I Saw Red.” It was something I screamed to take away the dead air before we went into a more up-tempo song. Then I did it a second time the next show and a third time and each time it got great reaction from the crowd. That’s when I thought maybe there’s a song lyric there. Maybe it’s a song title. Maybe it’s the title of an album!
AXS: How about the song, “Only Broken Heart”
RM: That one started out as a completely different idea. There were parts I really loved but I just wasn’t completely satisfied with it. I remember being at my house one night and pulling out my guitar and that’s when the whole idea of telling a story about a girl who’s desperate for love and a guy who couldn’t care less. I wrote this little short story in my head, brought it to the band in pre-production and played it for them. We switched up the chorus and that was it.
AXS: What was it like working with Jeff Pilson on Louder Harder Faster?
RM: Jeff and I were friends from back in Lynch Mob days but had never worked together. He’s an amazingly talented musician and a really smart guy. We got along great and things got even better as we made the record.
AXS: What made a hard-rock/metal band decide to do a cover of Merle Haggard’s “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”?
RM: The CEO of Professional Bull Riders saw us play and he asked if we’d be interested in performing at their finals in Las Vegas. Then he told us that he had a Merle Haggard song and if we re-did it, it would become the party anthem for their season. Coincidentally, we were in pre-production for this record at time. I listened to the song and said ok, let’s make it ours and supercharge it but still remain as faithful to the original as possible. We recorded it very quickly and they loved it.
AXS: Was having a career in music something you always aspired to do?
RM: I can’t say always but music has always been in my life. I was singling three-part harmony with my parents on long car rides since I was two. I learned on piano and was self-taught on guitar and was in garage and cover bands. I eventually took traditional vocal lessons and opera training, but still always wanted to be the “rock guy”. Through high school, college and sports it was always there until one day, there was that epiphany moment where I decided it was something I really wanted to do.
AXS: Of all the highlights of your career are there any that stand out to you as most memorable?
RM: There are lots of them. Honestly, the Ozzy thing was huge and getting to play in a band that was half of Black Sabbath. I have the greatest job in the world and have met so many great people and played so many great shows. There’s a lot to be said for being in the right place and the right time, but I’m also a firm believer in working hard and earning your luck. The other thing is meeting a lot of your idols that later accept you as their peer. Those bonds are the total reward other than to stand on my side of the mic and have people on the other side show up and enjoy themselves. I want to think that I make people forget their problems for a little while, have fun, reminisce and rock out and then go home a little bit happier.