The Lizards - Age of the Reptiles

Interview by Dark Starr

They say the dinosaurs are all extinct, but for The Lizards, the age of reptiles has never ended. These scaly troubadors are classic hard rockers capturing the best vibes from the Jurassic Period of rock and roll, where sleazy blues and catchy hooks rule the world. When I listen to these guys, I hear the likes of Bad Company, Whitesnake, Scorpions, Nazareth and Blue Oyster Cult. But its not just mimicry. The Lizards find a way to keep tasty hard rock fresh and timeless at the same time.

Each of these slithery characters has a long history in the biz. Drummer Bobby Rondinelli has a long history bashing the skins for Rainbow, Blue Oyster Cult and others while singer Mike DiMeo was part of the legendary band Riot and currently also belts it out for Euro power metal band Masterplan. Bassist Randy Pratt was a member of the cult prog band Star People while guitarist Patrick Klein has lent his talents to many a band.

Dark Starr went on a paleo-expedition to dig up the bones of the Lizards, but instead ran into them in the flesh! Here's the results of his conversation with bassist Randy Pratt...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Randy – heard you had a bad car accident. What can you tell us about that and your recovery process? Here’s hoping you’re on the road to a full recovery.

RANDY PRATT: Hi and thanks for your concern. My ring finger on my right hand was badly broken in three places. That's my main plucking finger.That finger and my middle finger on that hand were "hyper extended" i.e. bent all the way back to the top of my hand. My hand looks dramatically mangled and I now must wear a glove with the fingers cut off when I play. I tape my pinky to the top of my ring finger. It looks weird, but I can play like before. Bobby says that I'm better!

WC: Can you catch the readers up on the history of your musical career?

RP: I've been in some great, diverse bands but the only other band that did extensive touring was Star People. One of my most successful previous bands, Funky Knights, played hundreds of gigs in New York and Mass. They've just reunited for writing and recording, That's been fun...and FUNKY! I'm also in the NYC Blues Devils. This is old-timey blues and jazz (from whence rock was born, kids!) I've been playing mainly harp with them, but lately I broke out an old FOUR string bass. That's been strange, but cool. I've done some great gigs lately with Cactus, a super group from '69-'72 featuring Carmine Appice and Tim Bogert. I play harp with them. (Tim is a HUGE influence on me) The Lizards haven't gigged for awhile, but we've been very busy in the studio. We've got our covers cd, our 5th cd of originals "Reptilicus Maximus" and our dvd all coming along great.

WC: What happened to Star People? Are they still together or are they history?

RP: There is a 3rd "lost" Star People cd that I will put out someday. I've also got a beautiful graphic novel about Star People. I'd love it to be made into a movie.

WC: I hear more progressive rock influences in the current Lizards CD than in the previous ones. How do you see the music progressing?

RP: It progresses naturally. We've added a fifth member, Scott Treibitz, on keyboards and 2nd guitar. He's a great musician and has affected the writing on our new stuff. He was in Star People and is in the NYC Blues Devils.We like to keep it in the family! I like prog, but we kinda flirt around the edges on that style with the Lizards.

WC: Speaking of that, I know a lot of people have an aversion to having their music classified and categorized. How would you describe the sound of The Lizards?

RP: I like the sound of "Classic Rock". But we have some 80s in there too. Is that still classic?

WC: Who do you see as musical influences, both personally and as a band?

RP: My dad influenced me a lot and I still feel that. He would have liked the NYC Blues Devils. I love the blues, soul, funk classic 60s-70s hard rock/metal. Stuff that was around when I grew up. I pretty much stopped listening in the 90s. Partly because I was writing my own stuff, partly because I didn't like new music. It's a little better now.

WC: Where did the name come from?

RP: We knew that we were "dinosaurs", so we tagged ourselves before you could!

WC: What’s ahead for you guys?

RP: We're gonna finish those 3 projects that I mentioned, at our own pace, then hopefully do a headline tour of Europe. Maybe in '08.

WC: You had Glenn Hughes guesting on the new album. How did that come about and what was the experience like?

RP: Glenn has always been one of my faves. We toured with him for 2 months and asked him to play and write with us. There's a song that he wrote for us on our new cd. He pays bass and sings (I play harp, Mike duets with Glenn) He was a gentleman and funny. Bobby said to him when he was leaving "Glenn, you made this experience everything anyone would have wanted it to be." I thought he said it well.

WC: Are there musicians you’d like to play with in the future?

RP: Pat and I have a side project called "Funk Puppet" with a singing drummer, Paul Gifford, who's extremely talented. He sang and played percussion in Star People. We'll be gigging in NYC and have completed a cd of, for lack of a better term, "Power Pop" . See, I'm willing to label myself at the drop of a hat!

WC: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It’s been said by the major labels that it’s essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales – would you agree?

RP: It may have destroyed the music business, but that may be a good thing. It's probably lowering sales, but so is the strict rule of only signing little kids.

WC: In a related question how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

RP: Do it. Just please send me a copy.

WC: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?

RP: The last cds I bought were Velvet Revolver, Paul McCartney, Andy Fraser, Nazareth (I heard "Now you're dealin' with a son of a bitch" in a! They're awesome. Love Hurts too, fantastic. Velvet Revolver are great. Andy Fraser too.

WC: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

RP: Deep Purple and Vanilla Fudge at Radio City in New York. The Fudge stayed and rehearsed at my house.They were both great.

WC: Now, this one some love, some hate. Feel free to not answer if you don’t care to. What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

RP: I try to stay in perpetual Spinal Tap mode, but without laughing about it. It's funnier if you're serious.

WC: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you’d like to get out there?

RP: I'm having a wonderful time making music, branching out in all directions. Pat (Lizards guitarist) is a world class engineer/arranger and we produce and write really well together. We complete each other's sentences. We're surrounded by great artist. I've been blessed with a great life. Thanks everybody!